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Old Love-Letters 

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^Letters of Sentiment 





'Far more than kisses, letters mingle souls, 
For thus friends absent meet " 






Copyright^ 1882, 
By James R. Osgood and Co. 

A II rights reserved. 


University Press: 
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge. 



H IBfbicate tf)ts Uolume 



It was the fashion often, in daj's when literature 
was not so assured and independent a profession as 
now, to begin a book with a preface addressed to a 
being, half-shadowj^ and half-real, who existed in 
the author's mind as " The Gentle Reader." This 
reader, in whom the author embodied his pubhc, 
was entreated graciousl}^ to entertain that which 
had come from the heart of the writer, and to look 
with sympath}', or at least with criticism animated 
b}' kindh' interest, on that which was laid before 
him. It is to this same " Gentle Reader," almost 
extinct now and not often recalled, — to this 
shadow}' creature between whom and himself the 
author could fancy there existed a friendlj' bond, — 
that this little book is speciallj' commended ; in- 
deed, it is to him onh' that it is offered. The editor 
can say this with more earnestness because she 
feels herself in some sense the repository only of 
those secrets of the heart which are here revealed : 

vi Introductory, 

she has onh' jnst come from that past in which 
these hearts used to beat with passion and ten- 
derness ; she feels as if for a time she had found 
there the magic alchemy w^hich had recreated them 
from their dead ashes ; and their utterances have 
in them something so personal and so sacred that 
now, after having gathered them together from 
the obscure nooks and corners of literature where 
she found so man}' of them, she should hesitate to 
give them thus openl}' to any eye but that of the 
'' Gentle Reader." To him alone, then, are they 
given, — these records of passion, of foll}^ of mad- 
ness, as well as of lo^'alt}^, of devotion, and of 
noblest affection, — that under his eyes, beaming 
at once with S3'mpathy for human suffering and 
charit}" for human weakness, they may give up 
their inmost secrets, and he ma}' read here vrhat 
was long since written upon the '' red-leaved tab- 
lets of the heart," before they fail back again to 

It is claimed by many that this age of ours is 
so sordid and practical that any depth of feeling 
such as is so frankly expressed in these old let- 
ters would awake to-day only wonder or laughter. 
If it were necessary to make any plea to the 
"Gentle Reader" in favour of sentiment, there 
would flock, at such need, a cloud of best and most 

Introductory. vii 

triurnpliant witnesses. But let us hope it is not 
necessary. If there are no such eloquent letters 
written now as in the sixteenth century-, none so 
elegant as in the eighteenth, the reason lies per- 
haps in the fact that steam and lightning have so 
annihilated distance that exDression is disreo-arded 
and action takes its place. The lover does not 
stop to write to his mistress when the steam brings 
him to her feet ; nor the husband pause over the 
page, writing long messages of tenderness, and as- 
surances of health and safety in absence, when the 
lightning will take ten words of reassurance to his 
wife's chamber. So the art of letter-writing has 
fallen into decay. But let us hope that none of 
the warmth or tenderness of human hearts is lost 
in the rapid movement of life. And if we grant 
that expression grows more reserved, and that the 
tenderest husband might hesitate to-da}' to write 
to his "• dearest life" in terms that even the stern 
Puritan Cromwell found natural and easy, it is 
not because he feels any less, but because he car- 
ries his heart more and more under cover. Let 
us cherish that hope ; because in the most golden 
age of the world true affection is so rare, and love 
is a plant of such delicate and beautiful growth. 

^'' It is a talent to love^'' says one of George Eli- 
ot's strong- women characters, " hut I lacked it:' 

viii Introductory. 

"The woman who can love, constant!}' and trul}^" 
saj's Balzac, ''is as rare as tlie great general or 
the great poet. One must have the genius to love, 
and there are few such.'' If this be so, then the 
records of some of the hearts given here, who have 
loved and suffered, are all the more touching be- 
cause the}' are of the few. To suffer seems, in- 
deed, the fate of most of these hearts who are in 
earnest in their affection. Whether, after a brief 
season of happiness, some adverse circumstance 
comes in, or death divides, or whether (as often 
happens) offered love is unvalued and wasted, it 
is certain that in most cases there is something 
fatal to the long continuance of love's happiness. 
It is certain, too, that no person is more undis- 
criminating than the lover, and that neither virtue 
nor wit, nor any good qualit}', is the winning one, 
where passionate and most prodigal affection is 
concerned. Quite as often characters scheming, 
ambitious, selfish, cold-hearted, and quite devoid 
of tenderness, have won the largest loj'altj' and 
devotion. When we read the letters of Marv 
Wollstouecraft, or poor Otway, or Hester Van- 
homrigh, — when we see how such rich souls, 
passionate and loyal, can wreck themselves upon 
shallow natures with stony hearts, with neither 
the talent to love nor the sensibilit}' to value love, 

Introductory, ix 

— then we know why the ancient myths made love 
both cruel and bUnd. 

It is a subtle fact which we discover in studying 
these old letters, that they reveal not only the 
writer, whose soul, as Johnson says, '' lies naked 
in his letter," but that, by a sort of refracted light, 
the}' show us the soul of tlie person written to. 
When we read the passionate outpourings of 
Keats, and Vanessa, and Otway, the reverent ten- 
derness of Nelson, we see beyond them the shal- 
low and frivolous Fanny, the cold-hearted Swift, 
the selfish and mercenary Mrs. Barry, the voluptu- 
ous and ambitious Lady Hamilton. AVhen we 
read Lord Peterborough's epistles, we see not 
onl}^ the antique beau who writes the lines, but 
Lad}^ Howard as well, — the self-contained court 
beautv', calculating and a little precise, with whom 
he is pla3'ing at love-making. In John Winthrop's 
letters, Margaret Winthrop, the loyal and submis- 
sive Puritan wife, is as clear as in her own writing; 
and when Dorothy Sidney writes her lord, '^ If it 
he love to think on you sleeping and waking^ to dis- 
course on nothing with pleasure hut lohat concerns 
3'OU, to wish myself every hour with you^ and to pray 
for you with as much devotion as for my own soul^ 
then certainly it may he said 1 am in love" we are 
as sure that the best blood of the noble line of 

X Tntroductm^y, 

the Sidnej^s stirs about that husband's heart when 
he reads her letter as if we had personally known 
the man. 

It is strange how little the expression of senti- 
ment varies from century to century. These lines 
above from Dorothy Sidney might have come 
from the pen of any loving wife yesterday. Pliny, 
born in the first century, writing in Rome, begs 
liis wife to write him every day, and tells her he 
is wretched till she returns, in very much the same 
phrase as the merchant on 'change wrote his wife 
to-day, who has just left him for a fortnight's visit. 
" My chief happiness is in yoursr '^ Believe, there 
is nothing I xoould not do if it woidd make you 
happy J^ '' Life is not life now you are awayT 
These phrases are never hackneyed in the letters 
of lovers, and the}' are found word for word in 
letters centuries old, or in those of the moment. 
Love, like Youth, belongs among the immortals ; 
and what he sa3's is forever old, yet forever new. 

No one will fancj^ that this little book claims to 
contain all the famous love-letters of the past, or 
that this collection is exhaustive. There is only an 
attempt to represent different types of affection 
and different st} les qf expression. The sentimen- 
talit}' of Sterne contrasts well with the real passion 
of Farquhar, half-hidden under a laugh ; and the 


Introductory, xi 

lection, tempered with godliness, of John Win- 
throp is a good foil to the gallant coquetries of 
Lord Peterborough and the Countess of Suffolk. 
There are all sorts of guests at this banquet of 
Love, as in that other S3'mposium, described by 
Plato, at which the poetic Agathon, the calm 
Pausanias, the witty Aristophanes, even the hand- 
some Alcibiades, — a little disordered with wine, 
yet crowned with violets, — all sat to discourse 
on Love, each in his own fashion ; while above all 
their varjing voices rose that of the great Socra- 
tes, declaring, "Zore is the desire that good he for- 
ever present to us. Of necessity^ then, love must also 
he the desire for immortality,''^ 


This little volume bears exactly ihe same name as a 
charming comedy by the dramatic author, Mr. Broxson 
Howard; and I take this opportunity of apologizing to 
him for what might otherwise seem like an unwarrantable 
appropriation of a title, and of urging in excuse that this 
book could not easily have been called anything else than 
Old Love-Letters, 





Thomas Otway to Mrs. Barry 3 

The Same to the Same 7 

Earl of Rocliester to Mrs. Barry 8 

The Same to the Same 8 

George Farquhar to Mrs. Oldfield 9 

The Same to the Same 12 

The Same to the Same 13 

George Farquhar's Last Letter to Penelope .... 15 

Alexander Pope to the Misses Blount 16 

Alexander Pope to Martha Blount ........ 17 

Alexander Pope to Teresa Blount 18 

Alexander Pope to Martha Blount 20 

The Same to the Same 22 

Alexander Pope to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu . . 24 

The Same to the Same 30 

Lady Mary Pierrepont to Edward Wortley Montagu . 31 

The Same to the Same 33 

William Congreve to Mrs. Arabella Hunt 34 

Stella and Vanessa 36 

Dean Swift to Stella 41 

The Same to the Same 43 

xiv Contents. 


Hester Vanhomrigh to Dean Swift 45 

The Same to tlie Same 46 

Dean Swift's Answer to the Above 48 

Hester Vanhomrigh to Dean Swift 49 

Dean Swift to Hester Vanhomrigh 50 

Lord Peterborough and the Countess of Suffolk . . 52 

Lord Peterborough to Henrietta Howard 54 

The Same to the Same 56 

Mrs. Howard's Reply to the Foregoing 59 

Letters of Richard Steele 61 

Richard Steele to Mary Scurlock 63 

The Same to the Same 64 

Richard Steele to his Wife 64 

The Same to the Same 65 

The Same to the Same 66 

The Same to the Same 66 

The Letters of Laurence Sterne 70 

Laurence Sterne to Elizabeth Lumley 71 

Laurence Sterne to Kitty Tourmantelle 74 

Laurence Sterne to Eliza Draper 75 

The Same to the Same . . 75 

The Same to the Same 79 

Samuel Johnson to Mrs. Thrale 83 

The Same to the Same 86 

The Same to the Same 87 

Letters of Horace Walpole and the Misses Berry . . 88 

Horace Walpole to the Misses Berry 90 

The Same to the Same 91 

The Same to Miss Mary Berry 95 

To the two Misses Berry in Yorkshire 96 

Robert Burns to Ellison Begbie 98 

Robert Burns to Mrs. McLehose 101 

The Same to the Same 104 




The Same to the Same 105 

Robert Burns's Last Letter to Clarinda 107 

Mary Wollstonecraft's Letters 108 

Mary WoUstonecraft to Captain Imlay 113 

The Same to the Same 114 

The Same to the Same 115 

The Same to the Same 117 

The Same to the Same 119 

The Same to the Same 121 

The Same to tlie Same 122 

Tlie Same to the Same 125 

The Same to the Same 128 

The Same to the Same 131 

The Same to tlie Same 132 

The Same to the Same 134 

The Same to the Same 13(3 

The Same to the Same 137 

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Mary Shelley 139 

The Same to the Same 141 

The Same to the Same 142 

Lord Byron to the Countess Guicciola 143 

Cliarlotte Carpenter to Walter Scott 145 

The Same to the Same 117' 

The Same to the Same 148 

The Same to the Same 150 

The Same to the Same 151 

Leigh Hmit to his Betrothed 151 

John Keats's Letters to Fanny Brawne 155 

John Keats to Fanny Brawne 158 

The Same to the Same 160 

The Same to the Same 162 

The Same to the Same 163 

The Same to the Same 104 

xvi Contents, 


The Sarae to the Same 166 

The Sarae to the Same 167 

The Sarae to the Same 170 

William Hazlitt to Sarah L 173 



Letters of Henry VIIL to Anne Bolejn 179 

The Same to the Same 180 

Anne Boleyn to Hein-y VIII 182 

Anne Boleyn's Last Letter to Henry VIII 183 

Henry VIIL to Jane Seymour 187 

Katherine of Arragon to Henry VIII 188 

Katherine Parr to Henry VIII 190 

Sir Christopher Hatton to Queen Ehzabeth .... 192 

The Earl of Essex to Queen Elizabeth 195 

Mary Queen of Scots to tlie Earl of Bothwell ... 196 

James I. to the Duke of Buckingliam 200 

Lady Arabella Stuart to her Husband 202 

Charles I. to Henrietta Maria 204 

The Same to the Same 206 

Oliver Cromwell to his Wife -. 208 

The Same to the Same 209 

Charles 11. to Catherine of Braganza 210 

Letters of Queen Mary to King William 211 

The Same to the Same 213 

The Same to the Same .214 

The Same to the Same 215 

The Same to the Same : ... 217 

Prince Albert to Queen Victoria • . . . 219 

Contents. xvii 




The Paston Letters 223 

Margaret Paston to her Husband 224 

Sir John Paston to Anne Haute 226 

Margery Brews to John Paston 228 

The Same to the Same 231 

Richard Calle to Margery Paston 233 

Roger Ascliara to his Wife .....*.... 238 

Sir William St. Lo to his Wife 242 

The Earl of Shrewsbury to his Wife 244 

The Same to tlie Same 248 

Sir Walter Raleigh to his Wife 249 

The Same to the Same 251 

The Duchess of Buckingham to her Husband . . . 254 

Endymion Porter to his Wife 258 

The Same to tlie Same 261 

The Winthrop Letters 264 

Anne Winthrop to her Husband 265 

John Winthrop to Margaret Tyndal 267 

Margaret Winthrop to her Husband 272 

John Winthrop to his Wife 274 

The Same to the Same 276 

The Sidney Letters 279 

Lady Dorothy Sidney to her Husband 281 

The Earl of Sunderland to his Wife 283 

Lord and Lady Russell 288 

Lord Russell to Lady Russell 292 

Lady Russell to Lord Russell 292 

xviii Contents. 


The Same to the Same 298 

The Same to the Same 295 

The Duke of Marlborough to the Duchess .... 296 

The Same to the Same 298 

'The Letters of Mr. and Mrs. John Adams .... 300 

John Adams to his Wife 300 

Mrs. Adams to her Husband 303 

Warren Hastings to his Wife 305 

Letters of Aaron and Theodosia Burr 309 

Mrs. Burr to her Husband 310 

The Same to the Same 311 

Aaron Burr to his Wife 312 

The Same to the Same 314 

Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton 316 

Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton 318 

The Same to the Same 319 

The Same to the Same 320 



Eefelt the necessity of being beloved, which no noble mind 
can be without. — Colekidge. 



Thomas Otway to Mrs. Barry. 

The following letters were written by Thomas Ot- 
way, the poet, to Mrs. Barry, one of the most popular of 
English actresses in the last quarter of the seventeenth 
century. Her personation of Monimia in The Orphan, by 
Otway, and of Belvidera in his play of Venice Preservedj 
raised her to the very highest rank in her profession. 
" In the gentle passions of Monimia and Belvidera," says 
one of her biographers, " she has never been excelled. In 
scenes of anger, despair, and resentment she was impetu- 
ous and terrible, and yet uttered the lines of sentiment 
with a most enchanting harmony." 

In spite of her power in depicting the softer passions, 
she was neither a tender nor an amiable woman. Tradi- 
tion shows her as heartless as she was mercenary, with 
plenty of admirers, each of whom ministered in some way 
to her ambition or her advantage. Otway's imagination 
and heart were both at once touched in seeing her act in 
the creations of his fancy. She seems to have known how 
to keep alive his affection, by an occasional favour, for 
seven years. He was a man of sensitive nature and 

4 Letters of Poets mid Men of Letters. 

strong affections ; and this hopeless love, joined to other 
misfortune, drove him to excesses, finally to ruin. 

In his last days he was wretchedly poor, and there are 
varying accounts of the manner of his death, which was 
miserable enough in any case. One tradition relates that, 
finding himself without money or friends, he shut himself 
up in a tavern, resolved to die there ; but finally, forced by 
hunger, he rushed out, and, seeing a gentleman passing, 
begged for a shilling to buy bread. The man, recognizing 
in Otway the author of Venice Preserved, gave him a guinea. 
The poet went to the nearest shop and bought bread, and, 
eating ravenously in the agony of hunger, he was choked 
to death before he could swallow the first 'mouthful. He 
was only thirty-four years old at death. 

His mad passion for the heartless object of his love is 
best painted in his own words. 

No date ; between 1678-88. 
My Tyrant, — I endure too much torment to 
be silent, and have endured it too long not to 
make the severest complaint. I love 3'ou ; I dote 
on you ; mj love makes me mad when I am near 
you, and despair when I am from 3'ou. Sure, of 
all miseries love is to me the most intolerable ; it 
haunts me in my sleep, perplexes me when wak- 
ing; ever}^ melancholy thought makes my fears 
more powerful, and ever}" delightful one makes 
m}" wishes more unrul}'. In all other uneasy 
chances of a man's life, there 's an immediate re- 
course to some kind of succour or another: in 

Tlwmas Otway to Mrs. Barry. 5 

want, we apply to our friends ; in sickness, to 
ph3'sicians ; but love — the sum, the total of all 
misfortunes — must be endured in silence ; no 
friend so dear to trust with such a secret, nor 
remedy in art so powerful to remove its anguish. 
Since the first day I saw you I have hardly en- 
joyed one day of perfect quiet. I loved you early ; 
and no sooner had I beheld that bewitching face 
of 3'ours than I felt in my heart the very founda- 
tion of all my peace give wa v ; A>nt when 3'ou 
became another's, I must confess that I did then 
rebel, — had foolish pride enough to promise ni}'- 
self that I would recover my libert}', in spite of my 
enslaved nature ; I swore against m} self I would 
not love 3'ou ; I affected a resentment, stifled my 
spirit, and would not let it bend so much as once 
to upbraid 3'ou. Each day it was ray chance to 
see or be near 3'ou ; with stubborn sufferance I 
resolved to bear and brave 3'our power, — naj^, did 
it too, often successfully. General!}', with wine 
or conversation I diverted or appeased the de- 
mon that possessed me ; but when at night, re- 
turning to my unhappy self, to give my heart an 
account why I had done it so unnatural a vio- 
lence, it was then I always paid a treble interest 
for the short moments of ease which I had bor- 
rowed ; then every treacherous thought rose up, 

6 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

nor left me till thej' had thrown me on my bed, 
and opened those sluices of tears that were to 
flow till morning. This has been for some jears 
m}^ best condition ; na^', time itself, that deca} s 
all things else, has but increased and added to 
m}^ longings. I tell j'ou, and charge you to be- 
lieve it as 3^ou are generous (which sure 3'ou 
must be, for everj'thing except 3'our neglect of 
me persuades me you are so), even at' this time, 
though other arms have held 3'ou, that 11 love 
3'ou with that tenderness of spirit, that purity of 
truth, that sincerit}' of heart, that I could sacrifice 
the nearest friends or interests I have on earth 
barely to please you. If I had all the world, it 
should be 3'ours ; for with it I could but be mis- 
erable, w^ere 3'ou not mine. 

I appeal to 3'ourself for justice, if through the 
whole actions of m3' life I have done an3' one 
thing that might not let 3'ou see how absolute 3'our 
authorit3' was over me. Your commands have 
been sacred to me ; 3'our smiles have transported, 
3'our frowns awed me. In short, 3^ou will quickly 
become to me the greatest blessing or the greatest 
curse that ever man was doomed to. I cannot so 
much as look on 3'ou without confusion. You 
onl3' can, with the healing cordial love^ assuage 
and calm m3' torments. Pity the man, then, that 

Thomas Otway to 3[rs. Barry. 7 

would be proud to die for 3-ou, and cannot live 
without you, and allow him thus far to boast that 
you never were beloved by a creature that had a 
nobler or juster pretence to your heart than the 



The Same to the Same. 

Could I see 3'ou without passion, or be absent 
from you without pain, I need not beg your 
pardon for thus renewing my vows, that I love 
you more than health, or any happiness here or 
hereafter. Everything you do is a new charm to 
me ; and though I have languished for seven long 
3'ears, jealousl}' despairing, 3'et ever}' minute I 
see you I still discover something more bewitch- 

Consider how I love you. What would I not 
renounce or undertake for you? I must have 3'ou 
mine, or I am miserable ; and nothing but knowing 
which shall be the happ}' hour can make the rest 
of m}' life that is to come tolerable. Give me a 
word or two of comfort, or resolve never to look 
on me more ; for I cannot bear a kind look, and 
then a cruel repulse. T/iis minute my heart aches 
for you ; and if I cannot have a right in yours, I 

8 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

wish it would ache till I could complain to 3'ou no 
longer. Remember poor 


Earl of Rocliester to Mr§. Barry. 

One of Mrs. Barry^s lovers, more fortunate than Otway, 
was the profligate Earl of Kochester ; and the following 
are two brief notes which he wrote to the actress. It 
would seem that his brevity was more potent with her 
than Otway's eloquence; but it must be remembered that 
Rochester was an earl, and Otway only a poor poet. 

Madam, — Nothing can ever be so dear to me 
as you are, and I am so convinced of this that I 
dare undertake to love you as long as I live. 
Believe all I say, for that is the kindest thing 
imaginable ; and when 3'ou can devise any way 
that will make me appear so to you, instruct me 
in it, for I need a better understanding than my 
own to show my love without wrong to it. 

This is a second letter from the Earl, written at a time 
when his hand was wounded or disabled. 

Madam, — This is the first service my hand 
has done me since my being a cripple, and I 
would not employ it in a lie so soon. Therefore 

George Farqidiar to Mrs. Oldficld. 9 

pra}^ believe me sincere when I assure 3'ou that 
3^ou are verj' dear to me, and as long as I live I 
will be kind to you. 

P. S. This is all my hand would write, but my 
heart thinks a great deal more. 

George FarquTiar to Mrs. OlJJield, 

George Fakquhai^ was one of the most brilUant 
writers of comedy during the first decade of the eighteenth 
century ; and Mrs. Oldfield, who played the leading parts in 
some of his plays, was one of the most charming actresses 
of that time. When a girl of sixteen or eighteen, she lived 
with an aunt who kept the Mitre Tavern in St. James's 
Market, which was the resort of authors, actors, and men 
of artistic professions. Farquhar, dining there one day, 
overheard a fresh, musical voice reading aloud with great 
zest and vivacity a scene from Beaumont and Fletcher's 
Scornful Lady. The reading seasoned his repast, and after 
it he sought out the reader, and found her young, hand- 
some, and clever. Through his influence, Anne Oldfield 
became an actress, and was for years one of the queens of 
the stage. 

Farquhar seems to have been seriously in love with her ; 
but, perhaps fortunately for them both, slie preferred a 
richer and more illustrious lover. As for Farquhar, he 
married a woman who, having lost her heart to him, 
caused the report to be carried to his ears that a lady of 
great fortune was dying of an unrequited attachment to 

10 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

him. Impelled either by pity or by self-interest, or both 
together, he married her to discover that she was as 
penniless as himself. Yet it is told to his credit that he 
never reproached her for the deceit about her fortune, but 
made her a kind and devoted husband as long as she 

He died poor, and dying left this legacy to his friend 
Wilks, the actor, in the following laconic note : — 

Dear Bob, — I have not any tiling to leave thee to per- 
petuate my memory but two helpless girls. Look upon 
them sometimes, and think of him that was to the last 

moment of his life, thine. 

George Farquhar. 

It is not absolutely certain that the following letters are 
written to Mrs. Oldfield. They appear, however, in a col- 
lection of his writings in which are " letters to Penelope," 
and this seems to be the name under which he wrote to 
the fascinating actress.] 

No date. About 1700. 

Madam, — If I ha'n't begun thrice to write and 
as often thrown away my pen, may I never take 
it up again. My head and m}^ heart have been 
at cuffs about 3'ou these two long hours. Says 
my head, '' You're a coxcomb for troubling 3'our 
noddle about a lady whose beauty is as much 
above your pretensions as your merit is below 
her love." 

Then answers my heart, ''Good Mr. Head, 
3'ou 're a blockhead ; I know Mr. Farquhar's merit 

George Farquhar to Mrs. Oldfield, 11 

better than you. As for 3'our part, I know 3'ou 
to be as whimsical as the Devil, and changing 
with every new notion that oflers ; but for my 
share, I am fixed, and can stick to my opinion of 
a lady's merit forever ; and if the fair She can se- 
cure an interest in me. Monsieur Head, you ma}' 
go whistle." 

" Come, come," answered my head, " 3'ou, Mr. 
Heart, are always leading this gentleman into 
some inconvenience or other. Was it not you 
that first enticed him to talk to this lady ? Your 
confounded warmth made him like this lady, and 
your busy impertinence has made him write to 
her ; 3'our leaping and skipping disturbs his sleep 
by night and his good-humour by day. In short, 
sir, I will hear no more of it. I am head^ and I 
will be obeyed." 

'^ You lie," replied m}' heart, very angry. " I 
am head in matters of love ; and if you don't give 
3'our consent, you shall be forced, for I am sure 
that in this case all the members will be on my 
side. What sa}^ you, gentlemen Hands?" 

'' Oh," saj' the hands, '' we would not forego 
the pleasure of pressing a delicious, white, soft 
hand for the world." 

'' Well, what say you, Mr. Tongue?" 

"Zounds!" says the linguist, "there is more 

1 2 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

ecstas}' in speaking three soft words of Mr. 
Heart's suggesting than whole orations of Seign- 
ior Head's. So I am for the lady, and here's 
honest neighbour Lips will stick to it." 

"By the sweet power of kisses, that we will," 
replied the lips ; and thus all the worth}^ mem- 
bers standing up for the Heart, the}' laid violent 
hands {nemine contradicente) upon poor Head, and 
knocked out his brains. So now^. Madam, behold 
me as perfect a lover as any in Christendom, m}" 
heart purelj' dictating ever}' word I say ; the little 
rebel throws itself into your power, and if you 
don't support it in the cause it has taken up for 
your sake, think what will be the condition of 
The headless and heartless 


The Same to the Same, 

Monday, 12 o'clock at night. 
Give me leave to call you dear Madam, and tell 
you I am now stepping into bed, and that I speak 
with as much sincerity as if I were stepping into 
my grave. Sleep is so great an emblem of death, 
that my words ought to be as real as if I were 
sure never to awaken. Then may I never again 
be blest with the light of the sun and the joys of 

George Farquhar to Mrs. Oldfielcl 13\ 

last Wednesday, if you are not as dear to me as 
nn' hopes of waking in health to-morrow morning. 
Your charms lead me, my inclinations prompt me, 
and my reason confirms me. 

Your faithful and humble servant, 


The Same to the Same. 

TVht should I write to my dearest Penelope 
when I onh' trouble her with reading what she 
won't believe? I have told m}' passion, my eyes 
have spoke it, my tongue pronounced it, and my 
pen declared it ; I have sighed it, swore it, and 
subscribed it. Now m}' heart is full of you, my 
head raves of 3'ou, and m}' hand writes to you ; 
but all in vain. 

If you think me a dissembler, use me generoush^ 
like a villain, and discard me forever; but if 3'ou 
will be so just to my passion as to believe it sin- 
cere, tell me so and make me happ}' : 't is but 
justice, Madam, to do one or t' other. 

Your indisposition last night, when I left 3'ou, 
put me into such disorder that, not finding a 
coach, I missed mv way and never minded where 
I wandered till I found m^'self close by Tyhurn. 
When blind Love guides, who can forbear going 
astray ? Instead of laughing at myself, I fell to pity- 

14 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

ing poor Mr. Farqnhar, who whilst he roved abroad 
among j'our whole sex was never out of his way, 
and now by a single She was led to the gallows. 
From the thought of hanging I was led to that of 
matrimony. I considered how many gentlemen 
have taken a liandsome swing to avoid some in- 
ward disquiets ; then wh}' should not I hazard the 
noose to ease me of m_y torment? Then I con- 
sidered whether I should send for the ordinar}^ 
of Newgate, or the parson of St. Anne's ; but, 
considering myself better prepared for dying in a 
fair lad} 's arms than on the three-legged tree, I 
was the most inclined to a parish priest. Besides, 
if I died in a fair lad3''s arms, I should be sure of 
Christian burial at last, and should have the most 
beautiful tomb in the universe. 

You may imagine. Madam, that these thoughts 
of mortality were ver}' melancholy, but who could 
avoid the thought of his own death, when j'ou 
were sick ? And if 3^our health be not dearer to 
me than m\ own, ma}^ the next news I hear be 
3'our death, which would be as great a hell as 
your life and welfare is a heaven to the most de- 
voted of his sex, 


p. S. Pray let me know in a line whether you 
are better or. worse, whether I am honest or a 
knave, and whether I shall live or die. 

George Farqiiliar to Mrs, Oldjielcl. 15 

Farquliars Last Letter to Penelope (Mrs. Ol(//ieId?). 

Madam, — 'T is a sad misfortune to begin a let- 
ter with an adieu ; but when my love is crossed, 
'tis no wonder that my writing should be reversed. 
I would beg your pardon for the other offences of 
this nature which I have committed, but that I 
have so little reason to judge favourably of your 
mere}' ; though I can assure 3'ou, Madam, that I 
shall never excuse myself my own share of the 
trouble, no more than I can pardon myself the 
vanit}' of attempting your charms, so much above 
the reach of ni}^ pretensions, and which are re- 
served for some more worth}' admirer. If there be 
that man upon earth that can merit your esteem, 
I pity him, — for an obligation too great for a re- 
turn must, to any generous soul, be very uneasy, — 
though I still envy his misery. 

May you be as happy. Madam, in the enjo}^- 
ment of your desires as I am miserable in the 
disappointment of mine; and, as the greatest 
blessing of your life, may the person you most 
admire love you as sincerely and as passionately 
as he whom 3 ou scorn. 


16 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

Alexander Pope to the Misses Blount. 

Alexander Pope's friendship for the two sisters, Te- 
resa and Martha Blount, was as famous in its day as the 
friendship of Walpole for the two Misses Berry, half a 
century later. Poor, sickly, deformed little Pope was not 
framed by nature to excite a deeper feeling in his feminine 
contemporaries than pity, although he seems to have had 
an ambition to play his part in the gallant love-making of 
the age. He was so good and devoted a son, that it is sad 
he could not have had the opportunity to show the same 
virtues as a husband ; and, as one of his latest biographers 
feehngly says, ** The best prescription Pope's spiritual phy- 
sician could liave given, was the love of a good and sensible 
woman." The nearest approach to such an afLCCtion in 
his life was that between himself and Martha Blount, the 
younger of these two sisters. 

The Blounts were bright, vivacious young women whom 
Pope had known from boyhood, and who, in 1714, came to 
live near Pope's villa at Twickenham. At first he seems 
to have shared his regard about equally between the two, 
and, as he writes to Teresa, ** Even from my infancy I have 
been in love with one after the other of you." There was, 
however, on his part, a growing partiality for Martha, and 
after some jealousy on the part of Teresa, a falling off in 
his regard for her, which ended in quarrel and estrange- 
ment. For the last fifteen years of his life, Martha becanie 
his almost constant companion, and at his death he left 
lier the bulk of his fortune. In his last years he was piti- 
fully dependent on her for care and sympathy ; and he 
clung to her affection with most touching helplessness. 

Alexander Pope to Martha Blount. 17 

He seems to have been desirous that she should separate 
lierself from her family, and lead a more independent life; 
and the last letter quoted below is one in which he remon- 
strates with her on her want of independence and resolution 
in her dealings with her family, who, he elsewhere plainly 
intimates, were unkind and tyrannical. In his later years 
he spent the greater part of the time with her, and he 
speaks of her in a letter to one of his friends, as '* a friend 
— a woman friend ! — \\\i\\ whom I have spent three or 
four hours a day for these last fifteen years." 

Pope to Martha Blount, 

May 25, 1712. 

Madam, — At last I do myself the honour to 
send you the ''Rape of the Lock;" which has 
been so long coming out that the lady's charms 
might have been half decayed while the poet was 
celebrating them and the printer publishing 
them. But j'ourself and 3'our fair sister must 
needs have been surfeited alreadj' with this trifle, 
and therefore you have no hopes of entertainment 
but from the rest of this book ; wherein (the}^ 
tell me) are some things that may be dangerous 
to be looked upon : however, I think 3'ou ma}^ 
venture, though 3'ou should blush for it ; since 
blushing becomes you the best of an}' lad}' in 
England, and then the most dangerous thing to 
be looked upon is yourself. Indeed, Madam, not 
to flatter you, our virtue will be sooner OA-er- 

18 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

thrown by one glance of yours than by all the 
wicked poets can write in an age ; as has been 
too clearl}' experienced by the wickedest of them 
all, that is to say, by, Madam, 

Your most obedient, etc. 

Pope to Teresa Blount. 

Bath, 1714. 

You are to understand. Madam, that vc\y pas- 
sion for your fair self and sister has been divided 
with the most wonderful regularity in the world. 
Even from my infancy I haA'e been in love with 
one after the other of you, week b}' week, and 
my journe}' to Bath fell out in the three hundred 
and seventy-sixth week of the reign of mj' sover- 
eign Lady Sj'lvia. At the present writing hereof 
it is the three hundred and eight3'-ninth week of 
the reign of your most serene majesty, in whose 
service I was listed some weeks before I beheld 
3'our sister. This information will account for 
m}' writing to either of 3'ou hereafter, as either 
shall happen to be queen-regent at that time. 

Pray tell your sister all the good qualities and 
virtuous inclinations she has, never gave me so 
much pleasure in her conversation as that one vice 
of her obstinacy will give me mortification this 

Alexander Pope to Teresa Blount, 19 

month. Radcliff commands her to the Bath, and 
she refuses. Indeed, if I were in Berkshire, I 
should honour her for this obstinacy, and magnify 
her no less for disobedience than we do the Bar- 
celonians. But people change with the change 
of places (as we see of late), and virtues become 
vices when the}' cease to be for one's interest, 
with me, as with others. 

Yet let me tell her she will never look so finel}^ 
while she is upon earth as she would here in the 
water. It is not here as in most other instances ; 
for those ladies that would please extremel}', 
must go out of their own element. She does not 
make half so good a figure on horseback as 
Christina, Queen of Sweden ; but were she once 
seen in the Bath, no man would part with her for 
the best mermaid in Christendom. You know I 
have seen 3'ou often ; I perfectl}' know how you 
look in black and white, I have experienced the 
utmost 3'ou can do in colours ; but all your move- 
ments, all your graceful steps, deserve not half 
the glor}' 3'ou might here attain of a moving and 
eas}' behaviour in buckram — something between 
swimming and walking, free enough and more 
modestly half-naked than 3'ou can appear any- 
where else. You have conquered enough already 
by land ; show 3'our ambition and vanquish also 
by water. 

20 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

I could tell 3'ou a delightful stoiy of Dr. P., 
but want room to display it in all its shining cir- 
cumstances. He had heard it was an excellent 
cure for love to kiss the aunt of the person be- 
loved, who is generall}' of years and experience 
enough to damp the fiercest flame ; he tried this 

course in his passion, and kissed Mrs. E at 

Mr. D 's, but he says it will not do, and that 

he loves you as much as ever. 

Your, &c. 

Pope to Martlia Blount. 


Most Divine, — It is some proof of my sin- 
cerity toward 3'ou that I write when I am pre- 
pared b}' drinking to speak truth ; and sure a 
letter after twelve at night must abound with that 
noble ingredient. That heart must have abun- 
dance of flames which is at once w^ armed by wine 
and 3'ou. Wine awakens and refreshes the lurk- 
ing passions of the mind, as varnish does* the 
colours that are sunk in a picture, and brings them 
out in all their natural glo wings. M3" good qual- 
ities have been so frozen and locked up in a dull 
constitution at all my former sober hours, that it 
is very astonishing to me, now I am drunk, to 
find so much virtue in me. In these overflowings 

Alexander Pope to Martha Blount. 21 

of m}^ heart I pa}^ you my thanks for those two 
obliging letters 3'oa favoured me with, of the 18th 
and 24th instant. That which begins w4th " M}^ 
charming Mr. Pope," was a delight to me beyond 
all expression : you have at last entirely gained 
the conquest over 3'our fair sister. It is true 3'ou 
are not handsome, for you are a woman, and 
think 3'ou are not ; but this good-humour tind ten- 
derness for me has a charm that cannot be re- 
sisted. That face must needs be irresistible 
which was adorned with smiles, even when it 
could not see the coronation. I do suppose 3'ou 
wdll not show this epistle out of vanit3', as I 
doubt not 3'our sister does all I write to her. 
Indeed, to correspond with Mr. Pope ma3^ make 
an3' one proud who lives under a- dejection of 
heart in the countr3\ Ever3^ one values Mr. 
Pope, but everv one for a different reason : one 
for his adherence to the Catholic faith, another 
for his neglect of Popish superstition ; one for 
his grave behaviour, another for his whimsical- 
ness ; Mr. Titcomb for his prett3' atheistical jests, 
Mr. Caryll for his moral and Christian sen- 
tences ; Mrs. Teresa for his reflections on Mrs. 
Patt3% and Mrs. Patt3' for his reflections on Mrs. 
Teresa. . . . 

Your most faithful admirer, friend, 
servant, an3^thing, &c. 

22 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

The Same to the Same, 

Cirencester, no date. 

It is a true saying that misfortunes alone prove 
one's friendship ; they show us not only that of 
other people for us, but our own for them. We 
hardly know ourselves any otherwise. I feel my 
being forced to this Bath journey as a misfor- 
tune ; and to follow my own welfare, preferablj^ to 
those I love, is indeed a new thing to me — my 
health has not usually got the better of my ten- 
dernesses and affections. I set out with a heavy 
heart, wishing I had done this thing the last 
season, for ever}" day I defer it, the more I am 
in danger of that accident which I dread the most 
— my mother's death (especiall}' should it hap- 
pen while I am awa\^). And another reflection 
pains me, that I have never, since I knew 3'ou, 
been so long separated from you as I now must 
be. Methinks we live to be more and more 
strangers, and ever}" year teaches you to live 
without me. This absence may, I fear, make 
my return less welcome and less wanted to you 
than once it seemed even after but a fortnight. 
Time ought not in reason to diminish friendship 
when it confirms the truth of it by experience. 

The journey has a good deal disordered me, 

Alexander Pope to Alartha Blount. 23 

notwithstanding m}' resting-place at Lord Bath- 
nrst's. My Lord is too mucli for me ; he walks, 
and is in spirits all day long ; I rejoice to see him 
so. It is a right distinction, that I am happier in 
seeing m}^ friends so man3^ degrees above me, be 
it in fortune, health, or pleasures, than I can be in 
sharing either with them ; for in these sort of en- 
jo3'ments I cannot keep pace with them any more 
than I can w^alk with a stronger man. I wonder 
to find I am a companion for none but old men, 
and forget that I am not a 3'oung fellow mj'self 
The w^orst is that reading and writing, which I 
have still the greatest relish for, are growing pain- 
ful to m}' CA^es. But if I can preserve the good 
opinion of one or two friends, to such a degree as 
to have their indulgence to m\ weaknesses, I will 
not complain of life ; and if I could live to see 3'ou 
consult your ease and quiet, b}^ becoming inde- 
pendent of those who will never help you to either, 
I doubt not of finding the latter part of mv life 
pleasanter than the former or present. M3' un- 
easiness of bod}' I can bear ; my chief uneasiness 
of mind is in your regard. You have a temper 
that would make you easy and beloved (which is 
all the happiness one needs to wish in this world) , 
and content with moderate things. All your point 
is not to lose that temper hy sacrificing 3'ourself 

24 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

to others, out of a mistaken tenderness, which 
hurts 3'ou and profits not them. And this 3'ou 
must do soon, or it will be too late ; habit will 
make it as hard for }'ou to live independent, as 
for L to live out of a court. 

You must excuse me for observing what I think 
an}' defect in 3'ou ; 3'ou grow too indolent, and 
give things up too easily, which would be other- 
wise when 3'OU found and felt 3'ourself 3'our own ; 
spirits would come in as ill-usage went out. While 
3'OU live under a kind of perpetual dejection and 
oppression, nothing at all belongs to 3'Ou — not 
3'Our own humour^ nor 3'our own sense. 

You cannot conceive how much 3'ou would find 
resolution rise and cheerfulness gi^ow upon 3'Ou, 
if you would once tr3' to live independent for two 
or three months. I never think tenderly of 3'ou 
but this comes across me, and therefore excuse 
m3' repeating it ; for whenever I do not, I dissem- 
ble half that I think of you. Adieu ; pray write, 
and be particular about 3'our liealth. 

Pope to Lady Mary Worthy Montagu, 

Lady Montagu is one of the most prominent female 
figures in her time, wliich extends over the first lialf of tlie 
eighteenth century. We get our first glimpse of her at 

Alexander Pope to Lady Montacjit. 25 

eight years of age, set up on the dining-tahle of tlie Kit Kat 
Club to be toasted as a reigning beauty ; and from tliat tiuje, 
till her death, she occupies a large space in the age which 
alternately admired and traduced her. 

She was married at twenty-two to Edward Wortley 
Montagu, and shortly after her marriage went with lier 
husband on an embassy to Constantinople, whence she 
wTote some of those letters which contributed to make 
her famous as a writer. Pope's correspondence with her 
began during this absence ; and after her return from the 
East she settled near him at Twickenliam, and their friend- 
ship was tlourishing. Even the Blounts were neglected for 
Lady Mary. Suddenly there was coldness, then an open 
quarrel, and finally bitter hostilities in which they lam- 
pooned each other with a vulgarity rarely to be found ex- 
cept in this elegant '* Augustan Age" of literature. 

Report says that the cause of the quarrel was the fact 
that Pope forgot his crooked back and deformed side 
and the still more important fact that Lady Mary had a 
husband, and made love to her seriously ; and that the 
lady, instead of repulsing him in earnest, only went into 
such convulsions of laughter that the vanity of the poet 
was wounded past cure. Pope w\is womanish enough to 
feel all the fury that the poets declare none but a woman 
wronged can feel, and the quarrels and the lampoons were 
the consequence. Tlie following was written while Lady 
Mary was in Constantinople. 

Madam, — If to live in the memory of others 
have an^'thing desirable in it, it is what yoii pos- 
sess with regard to me in the highest sense of the 
words. There is not a day in which your figure 

26 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

does not appear before me, your conversation re- 
turn to mj' thoughts ; and everj^ scene, place, or 
occasion, where I have enjoj'ed them, are as Hve- 
lily painted as an imagination equally warm and 
tender can be capable to represent them. Yet how 
little accrues to you from all this, when not only 
my wishes, but the very expressions of them, can 
hardl}' ever arrive to be known to 3'ou? I can- 
not tell whether you have seen half the letters I 
have writ ; but if you had, I have not said in them 
half of what I designed to say ; and 3'ou can have 
seen but a faint, slight, timorous echantillon of 
w^hat m}' spirit suggests, and my hand follows 
slowly and imperfectly, indeed unjustly, because 
discreetl}^ and reserved!}'. When 3'ou told me 
there was no way left for our correspondence but 
hj merchant ships, I watched ever since for any 
that set out, and this is the first I could learn of. 
I owe the knowledge of it to Mr. Congreve (whose 
letters, with my Lad}' Rich's, accompany this). 
However, I was impatient enougli to venture two 
from Mr. Methuen's office ; if they have miscarried 
you have lost nothing but such words and wishes 
as I repeat every day in yonr memory, and for 
your welfare. I have had thoughts of causing what 
I write for the future to be transcribed, and to 
send copies by more ways than one, that one at 

Alexander Pope to Lady Montagu. 27 

least might have a chance to reach 3'ou. The letters 
themselves would be artless and natural enough to 
prove there could be no vanity in this practice, and 
to show it proceeded from the belief of their being- 
welcome to 3'ou, — not as they came from me, but 
from England. My e^'esight is grown so bad that 
I have left off all correspondence except with 3^our- 
self ; in which methinks I am like those people who 
abandon and abstract themselves from all that are 
about them (with whom they might have business 
and intercourse), to employ their addresses onh' to 
invisible and distant beings, whose good offices and 
favours cannot reach them in a long time, if at all. 
If I hear from you, I look upon it as little less than 
a miracle, or extraordinary visitation from another 
world ; it is a sort of dream of an agreeable thing, 
which subsists no more to me ; but, however, it is 
such a dream as exceeds most of the dull realities 
of m}^ life. Indeed, what with ill-health and ill- 
fortune, I am grown so stupidh' philosophical as 
to have no thought about me that deserves the 
name of warm or livel}', but that which sometimes 
awakens me into an imagination that I ma}' yet see 
you again. Compassionate a poet who has lost all 
manner of romantic ideas, except a few that hover 
about the Bosphorus and Hellespont, — not so much 
for the fine sound of their names as to raise up 

28 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

images of Leander, who was drowned in crossing 
the sea to kiss the hand of fair Hero. This were 
a destiny less to be lamented than what we are 
told of the poor Jew, one of your interpreters, who 
was beheaded at Belgrade as a sp}'. I confess 
such a death would have been a great disappoint- 
ment to me ; and I believe Jacob Tonson will hard- 
ly venture to visit 3'ou after this news. 

You tell me the pleasure of being nearer the sun 
has a great effect upon your health and spirits. 
You have turned my affections so far eastward 
that I could almost be one of his worshippers ; for 
I think the sun has more reason to be proud of 
raising 3'our spirits than of raising all the plants 
and ripening all the minerals in the earth. It is 
my opinion a reasonable man might gladh' travel 
three or four thousand leagues to see your nature 
and your wit in their full perfection. What may 
we not expect from a creature that went out the 
most perfect of this part of the world, and is everj- 
day improving b}^ the sun in the other. If you do 
not now write and speak the finest things imagi- 
nable, you must be content to be involved in the 
same imputation with the rest of the East, and be 
concluded to have abandoned yourself to extreme 
effeminacy, laziness, and lewdness of life. 

I make not the least question but j^ou could give 

Alexander Pope to Lady Moiitarju. 29 

me great eclaircissements upon manj' passages in 
Homer, since 3'on have been enlightened b\' the 
same sun that inspired the Father of Poetry. Yon 
are now glowing under the climate that animated 
him ; 3'ou ma}' see hi^ images rising more boldly 
about 3'ou in the very scenes of his stor}' and 
action ; }'ou may la}' the immortal work on some 
broken column of a hero's sepulchre, and read the 
fall of Troy in the shade of a Trojan ruin. But 
if, to visit the tomb of so many heroes, you have 
not the heart to pass ofer that sea where once a 
lover perished, you may at least, at ease in your 
own window, contemplate the fields of Asia in 
such a dim and remote prospect, as you have of 
Homer in my translation. 

I send you therefore, with this, the third volume 
of the Iliad, and as many other things as fill a 
wooden box, directed to Mr. Wortley. Among the 
rest you have all I am worth, — that is, my works ; 
there are few things in them but what you have 
already seen, except the epistle of Eloisa to Abe- 
lard, in which you will find one passage that I 
cannot tell whether to wish you should understand 
or not. 

The last I received from your hands was from 
Peterwaradin ; it gave me the joy of thinking you 
in good health and humor; one or two expres- 

30 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

sions in it are too generous ever to be forgotten by 
me. I writ a very melancholy one just before, 
which was sent to Mr. Stan^an, to be forwarded 
through Hungar}'. It would have informed 3'ou 
how meanh' I thought of the pleasures of Italy 
without the qualification of 3'our company', and 
that mere statues and pictures are not more cold 
to me than I to them. I have had but four of 
your letters ; I have sent several, and wish I knew 
how many you have received. For God's sake, 
Madam, send to me as ^ften as you can ; in the 
dependence that there is no man breathing more 
constantly or more anxiously mindful of 3'ou. Tell 
me that 3'ou are well, tell me that vour little son is 
well, tell me that your ver}^ dog (if you have one) 
is well. Defraud me of no one thing that pleases 
3'ou, for whatever that is, it will please me better 

than anything else can do. 

I am always vours. 

This brief note was written to Lady Mary Wortley 
IMontagu after her return from Constantinople, and was 
one of the last wliich passed between them. 

Pope to Lad]) Marij Wortlejj Montagu. 

I MIGHT be dead, or you in Yorkshire, for any- 
thing that I am the better for your being in town. 

Lady Mary Pierrepont to Mr. Montagu. 31 

I have been sick ever since I saw you last, and 
have now a swelled face, and very bad. Nothing 
will do me so much good as the sight of dear 
Ladj^ Mary. When j'ou come this way, let me 
see you, for indeed I love 3'ou. 

Lady Mary Pierrepont to Edward Wortley Montagu. 

The lively Lady Mary Wortley Moxtagu, nee Pierre- 
pont, who had been the object of Pope's passion, was 
hardly twenty when she met Edward Wortley Montagu. 
They were married after a ratlier stormy courtship of two 
years. Her lover seems to have been rather uncertain in 
his wooing, and the course of their love was troubled from 
the outset. " When I foolishly fancied," she writes him, 
" that you loved me, there is no condition of life I could 
not have been happy in with you. But I w ill never see you 
more. If you write, be not displeased if I send it back un- 
opened." And in the very next post she acknowledges a 
letter from him in such terms as the following. 

No date. 
I THOUGHT to have returned no answer to 3'our 
letter, but I find I am not so wise as I thought 
myself. I cannot forbear fixing my mind a little 
on that expression, though perhaps the only in- 
sincere one in 3'our letter — ' ' I would die to be 
secure of your heart, though but for a moment." 
Were this but true, what is there I would not do 
to secure you? 

32 Letters of Poets ami Men of Letters. 

I will state the case to jou as plainh' as I can ; 
and then ask 3'ourself if 3'ou use me well. I have 
showed in every action of my life an esteem for 
you that at least challenges a grateful regard. I 
have trusted my reputation in your hands ; I have 
made no scruple of giving 3'ou, under my own 
hand, an assui'ance of mj' friendship. After all 
this, I exact nothing from you. If 3'OU find it 
inconvenient for ^our affairs to take so small a 
fortune, I desire you to sacrifice nothing to me. 
I pretend no tie upon your honour ; but in recom- 
pense for so clear and so disinterested a proceed- 
ing, must I ever receive injuries and ill-usage? 

I have not the usual pride of my sex. I can 
bear being told I am in the wrong, but I must be 
told genth'. Perhaps I have been indiscreet : I 
came young into the hurry of the world ; a great 
innocence and an undesigning gaj^ety ma}' possi- 
bh' have been construed coquetry and a desire of 
being followed, though never meant by me. I 
cannot answer for the observations that may be 
made on me. All who are malicious attack the 
careless and defenceless. I own myself to be 
both. I know not anything I can say more to 
show m\' perfect desire of pleasing you and mak- 
ing 3^ou eas}', than to proffer to be confined with 
3'ou in what manner 3'ou please. Would any 

Lady Mary Pierrcpont to Mr. Montagic. 33 

woman but me renounce all the world for one ? or 
would an}' man but you be insensible of such a 
proof of sincerity? 

M. P. 

As might have been fancied from this stormy courtship, 
in whicii there does not seem to have been mutual confi- 
dence from the beginning, the marriage did not turn out 
altogether well. The pair made a runaway match, to es- 
cape the opposition of her friends ; but very soon after 
marriage Lady Mary begins to complain of her husband's 
coldness, of the frequenc}^ of his absence and the solitude 
to which he leaves her. He had frequently predicted dur- 
ing their courtship that their marriage would not prove 
happy, and seems to have taken no pains to prove this pre- 
diction untrue, while poor Lady Mary, who had all her life 
the power of attracting admirers, had not the skill, so much 
more rare, of holding the heart of a husband. The fol- 
lowing is the letter she sent him on the eve of their elope- 

— ♦ — 

The Same to the Same, 

Friday Night, August, 1712. 
I TREMBLE for what we are doing. Are 3'ou 
sure \o\\ shall love me forever? Shall we never 
repent? I fear and I hope. I foresee all that 
will happen on this occasion. I shall incense my 
family to the highest degree. The generality of 
the world will blame my conduct, and the rela- 
tions and friends of will invent a thousand 

34 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

stories of rae. Yet 't is possible you may recom- 
pense everything to me. In this letter, which I 
am fond of, you promise me all I wish. Since I 
writ so far, I received 3'our Friday letter. I will 
be only 3'ours, and I will do what 3'ou please. 

M. P. 

William Congreve to Mrs. Arabella Hunt. 

AViLLiAM CoNGREV^E, whose tragedy of the ''Mourning 
Bride " Dr. Johnson thought contained some lines un- 
equalled in English poetry, was contemporary with Far- 
quhar as a dramatist, and was a friend of Pope, Lady 
Mary Montagu, Swift, and the other celebrated writers of 
this period. 

He had several affairs of the heart, the most notable 
among them his affection for Henrietta, Duchess of Marl- 
borough, to whom he left at his death most of his fortune. 
On her part, the Duchess erected a splendid tomb for him 
in Westminster Abbey, and had an ef^gj of the poet, 
dressed as in life, made exactly to resemble him ; and this 
image (so common report of the time averred), " she ordered 
brought to the table when she took her meals, and would 
talk to by the hour together." The force of devotion could 
no further go ! 

There is very little of Congreve's correspondence pre- 
served, and none of his letters to the Duchess of Marlbor- 
ough. The following note, Avhich gives very little idea of 
the wit and vivacity which flavour his comedies, is written 
to Arabella Hunt, a public singer of the time. 

Williani Conyreve to Mrs, Arabella Hunt. 35 

Windsor ; no date. 

Angel, — There can be no stronger motive to 
bring me to Epsom, or to the North of Scotland, 
or to Paradise, than 3'our being in any of those 
places ; for 3'ou make everj^ place alike heavenly 
wherever you are. And I believe if anything 
could cure me of a natural infirmity, seeing and 
hearing you would be the surest reraedj' ; at least 
I should forget that I had anything to complain 
of, while I had so much more reason to rejoice. 
I should certainly, had I been at my own dispo- 
sal, have taken post for Epsom upon receipt of 
3'our letter, but I have a nurse here who has do- 
minion over me, a most unmerciful she-ass. Ba- 
laam was allowed an angel to his ; I '11 pra}', if 
that will do any good, for the same grace. I am 
having great experience in the slowness of that 
animal ; for 3'ou must know I am making m}^ 
journey towards health upon that beast, and find 
I make such slow advances that I despair of ar- 
riving at you or any other blessing till I am capa- 
ble of using some more expeditious means. 

I could tell 3'ou of a great inducement to bring 
3'ou to this place, but I am sworn to secrec3' ; how- 
ever, if you were here I would contrive to make 
you one of the part3\ I '11 expect you, as a good 


36 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

Christian may everything that he devoutlj' pra3's 
for. I am. Madam, 

Your everlasting adorer, 


— « — 

Stella and Vanessa. 

However Jonathan Swift's biographers may explain 
or apologize for him, I liave never yet seen a woman who 
did not feel for his character both contempt and detesta- 
tion. A man who could deliberately and for years outrage 
tlie feelings and lacerate the hearts of two women whose 
worst weakness was in the fact that they devotedly loved 
him, can be looked at in no amiable light by any woman 
witli any chivalry for her sex. His sentimental experience 
is so interesting that the following letters could hardly be 
printed without a prefatory explanation, although the ac- 
count of Swift's relations with Stella and Vanessa has so 
often before been given. 

Earl}^ in life Swift was secretary in the family of Sir 
William Temple, then in the declining years of his states- 
manship. Here, at Moor Park, to quote Macaulay's words, 
" Swift attended Sir William, as amanuensis, for twenty 
pounds a year and his board, dined at the second table, 
wrote bad verses in praise of his empljoyer, and made love 
to a pretty, dark-eyed girl who waited on Lady Giffard'* 
(Sir William's sister). This pretty, dark-eyed girl was 
Esther Johnson, the "Stella" famous in Swift's corre- 

When Temple died, Swift, not long after, got his living 
at Laracor in Ireland, and went tlicre to enter upon his 

Stella and Vanessa. 37 

duties as clergyman. Stella soon followed him, and took 
up her abode there. Slie was accompanied by Mrs. Ding- 
ley, a respectable elderly woman, with a small income, and 
the two lived together in lodgings, not far from Swift. 
When he went away they moved into his parsonage, va- 
cating it on his return, and going back to their lodgings 

After Swift's writings had made him famous as '' the 
great Dean Swift," he went more and more frequently to 
London. He was a power there in the world of literature 
and affairs, and knew intimately the most distinguislied 
men of his age. Pope, Atterbury, Gay, Congreve, Addison, 
Peterborough, Bolingbroke, Oxford, all these were his asso- 
ciates. In these absences from home he wrote Stella al- 
most daily, keeping a journal-letter which he despatched 
regularly, and giving the fullest account of all he said, 
lieard, or did. This is the Journal to Stella included in his 
works, from which extracts are given below. The letters 
are charming, gossiping love-letters, — charming enough 
for any man to write, a man even who had a sound, whole- 
some human heart in his bosom. One can fancy poor 
Stella gloating over them, extracting the fondness as a bee 
honey, sleeping with them at night under her pillow, and 
carrying them about with her by day. But with the ten- 
dency to hiding and secrecy, which makes love seem like a 
crime with this man, Swift never can write out plainly. Not 
content with calling Esther '• Stella," he calls her " M. D." in 
his letters. He speaks to her in the third person constantly. 
Although the letters are evidently exclusively hers, he 
writes in the plural to include Mrs. Dingley ; he calls him- 
self "Presto; " and all sorts of hidden allusions veil his let- 
ters. One ought to doubt a man who goes so into hiding 
when nobody seeks. 

38 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

After some dozen years of this life in Ireland, — years 
of absolute self-abnegation on Stella's part, — in one of bis 
absences to London Swift met Miss Hester Vanhomrigh, 
who lived there with her mother and sister, ladies of inde- 
pendent fortune. Swift began visits to them, and a special 
friendship sprang up between himself and Hester, a culti- 
vated, witty, spirited young woman. To believe (as Swift 
evidently would have us) that this attractive, clever girl 
would have given SNvift all her heart, and would have be- 
haved as she did all her life after, unless he had at the 
outset allowed her to suppose that he loved her, and that 
there was no barrier to his making her his wife, is a belief 
that outrages probability. At this time one notices that 
his letters to Stella are less frequent ; Stella complains a 
little of neglect ; he does not allude to Miss Yanliomrigli 
in his letters to Stella except very casually, although he 
goes almost daily to drink coffee with Miss Hester, whom 
he calls " Hessy " and " Missess}^ " and thinks no one ever 
made such coffee as she. This reserve about mentioning 
Miss Vanhomrigh to Stella furnishes a fair inference that 
Miss Vanhomrigh is kept in equal ignorance about " little 
M. D." . 

After a year or two of this. Swift, who is as cowardly 
as he is cold-hearted, begins to be alarmed at the state of 
affairs. Hester's mother dies, and she resolves to come to 
Ireland to live. Stella has begun to be jealous. Swift 
writes to Hester, "If you are in Ireland when I am, I 
shall see you but seldom. It is not a place for any free- 
dom. ... I will write you as soon as I can, but I shall 
always write under cover. If you write me, let some one 
else direct it." He has already given her the pseudonym 
of " Vanessa," and he is " Cadenus," or Cad. He is per- 
petually counselling her to secrecy. When she wishes to 

Stella and Vanessa. 39 

write anything special to Cad, she must not use the name, 
but four dots, thus .... The poor girl writes, " I trust 
the last letter I wrote you was obscure and constrained 
enougli. I took pains to write it after your manner, although it 
li'ould have been much easier for me to hare icrote otherwise." 

Next, from fretting and jealousy, Stella fell seriously 
ill. It was urged the only thing the Dean could do was to 
marry her. The only reason he urged against marriage was 
that he did not mean to marry till he had a certain amount 
of fortune; but he finally consented on condition the 
marriage should be kept secret, and in 1716, in the garden 
of the Deaner}^ with Mrs. Dingley as witness, he married 
the woman who for sixteen years or more had devoted her 
life and soul to him. Some one tells the story of a friend's 
meeting Swift just after the ceremony, and how the great 
Dean looked pale and haggard, and rushing past said, 
*' You have just met a most wretched man, but on the 
subject of his wretchedness you must ask no question." 
Much time has been spent in guessing what this mysteri- 
ous cause of Swift's misery was. One would fancy that 
even to a cold-blooded and cold-hearted man like Swift, 
the tear-stained face of poor Vanessa looking out for him 
through t-he lonely shades of Marley Abbey must have 
floated beside him like a spectre, as he pronounced his 
vows to Stella in his sunny garden. One would think he 
needed no worse cause for wretchedness on his wedding- 
day than that ! 

After the marriage, Stella returned to her lodgings, and 
the Dean to his Deanery, where poor Stella was never ad- 
mitted to live as his wife to her dying day. 

Meantime, for seven years more, the visits to Vanessa 
continued, although he advises change of air, occupation, 
visits, evidently as distractions of her affection for him. 

40 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

She lived at Marley Abbey, near Cellbridge, and her old 
servant pointed out to a visitor after lier death a clump of 
laurels, trained into a bower, where her writing-table and 
books were placed, and where, when the Dean came, she 
used to sit with him. Whenever he came it was her cus- 
tom to plant a laurel tree to liallow the day, and a clump 
of these trees marks the place where slie used to watch 
and long for his coming. If, as Boccaccio relates, the 
basil tree grew green and flourishing from the head of 
Isabella's murdered lover, surely these laurels drew their 
freshness and beauty from a woman's heart's-blood. 

At the last, worn out by years of such waiting, Vanessa 
took tlie fatal step of writing to Stella to ask what relation 
she bore to Swift. Was she his wife ? Stella, who seems 
gentleness itself, must have been stung by this question. 
She made no answer to Vanessa, but enclosed the letter to 
Swift. He took it, and at once set out for Marley Abbey. 
He entered, found Vanessa, and with one of those awful 
looks which she says struck her dumb, he threw the crum- 
pled letter before her, and went away. Vanessa never saw 
him again ; and in a few weeks slie died — died literally of 
heart-break. She left directions that her letters and Swift's 
should be published ; but the originals were destroyed. 
Tliose that are left are copies ; and there are not enough 
remaining to tell the whole of this sad story. 

Swift published the poem of Cademis and Vanessa, which 
is his account of the aifair; and it was much read and ad- 
mired. Somebody said to Stella, " Dr. Sw if t writes beau- 
tifully about Miss Vanliomrigh," to wliich she answered, 
** Oh yes, Dr. Swift could write heauUfnlly about a broom- 
stick," — a speech whose little malice even poor Vanessa 
could forgive, for Stella too had suffered. 

Stella outlived her rival five years, and wiien she was 

Dean Sioift to Stella. 41 

on her death-bed the great Dean wrote beautiful prayers 
to read to her; no doubt he read them too, beautifully. 
But a stor}^ (which some of his biograpliers have discred- 
ited) relates that, when at the last she pleaded to be allowed 
to die under the roof of the Deanery, where she had never 
lived as his wife, he strode away with one of the black 
frowns which smote Vanessa's life, and refused even that 
poor last comfort to the dying woman. 

This is the story of Stella and Vanessa w^hich has be- 
come almost as famous as the story of Abelard and Heloise, 
and which remains still untold to the depths. There is 
much in this sad episode on which neither these letters nor 
any written history throws a full light. 

Dean Swift to Stella, 

London, Sept. 10, 1710. 
Here I must begin another letter, on a whole 
sheet, for fear saucj' little M. D. should be angrj' 
and think that the paper is too little. I had 3'our 
letter last night, as I told you just and no more 
in my last ; for this must be taken up in answer- 
ing yours, saucebox. I believe I told you w^bere 
I dined to-day ; and to-morrow I go out of town 
for two days to dine with the same companj^ on 
Sunday. I heard that a gentlewoman from Lad}^ 
Giffard's house had been at the coffee-house to 
inquire for me. It was Stella's mother, I suppose. 
I shall send her a penm^-post letter to-morrow, 
and continue to see her without hazardins: seeins; 

42 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

vny Lady Giffarcl, which I will not do until she 
begs my pardon. . . . 

Here is such a stir and bustle with this little 
M. D. of ours ; I must be writing ever}^ night. 
I cannot go to bed without a word to them ; I 
cannot put out my candle till I've bid them 
"good-night." O Lord! O Lord! . . . Well, 
you have had all vay land journey in m\ second 
letter, and so much for that. So you 've got into 
Presto's lodgings ; \evj fine trnlv. We have had 
a fortnight of the most glorious weather on earth, 
and still continues. I hope 3'ou have made the 
best of it. 

Stella writes like an emperor. I am afraid it 
hurts 3'our ej^es ; pra^^ take care of that, pra}^, 
Mrs. Stella. 

Cannot 3'ou do what you will with 3'our own 
horse ? Pray do not let that puppj' Parvisol sell 
him. Patrick is drunk about three times a week, 
and I bear it, and he has got the better of me ; 
but one of these da3's I shall positively turn him 
off into the wide world, when none of you are by 
to intercede for him. . . . 

"Write constantly!" Why, Sirrah, do I not 
write every day and twice a day to M. D. ? Now 
I have answered all 3^our letter, and the rest must 
be as it can be. I think this enough for one 
night ; and so farewell till this time to-morrow. 

Dean Sioift to Stella, 43 

The Same to the Same. 

London, October, 1710. 

I GOT M. D.'s fourth to-day at the coffee-house. 
God Ahiiighty bless poor Stella and her eyes and 
head. What shall we do to cure them, poor 
dear life? Your disorders are a pull-back for 
your good qualities. Would to Heaven 1 were 
this minute shaving your poor dear head, either 
here or there. Pra}' do not write ; nor read this 
letter ; nor anything else, and I will write plain 
for Dingley to read from henceforward, though 
my pen is apt to ramble when I think who I am 
writing to. ... I know it is neither wit nor 
diversion to tell you every day where I dine ; 
neither do I w^rite it to fill my letter, but I fanc}' 
I shall some time or other have the curiosity of 
seeing some particulars of my life when I w^as 
absent from M. D. this time, and so I tell 3'ou 
now. ... I dined to-day with Mr. Addison and 
Steele, and a sister of Mr. Addison, w^ho is mar- 
ried to one Mons. Sartre, a Frenchman, prebend- 
ary of Westminster, who has a delicious house 
and garden. Addison's sister is a sort of wat, 
ver}^ like him. I am not fond of her. 

I was to-day to see Mr. Congreve, who is 
almost blind with cataracts growing on his e3'es. 

44 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

and his case is he must wait two or three 3'ears 
until the cataracts are riper, and till he is quite 
blind,' arid then he must have them couched, 
and besides he is never rid of the gout, 3'et he 
looks 3'oung and fresh, and is as cheerful as ever. 

... I was to-day at Mr. Sterne's lodgings ; 
he was not within, and Mr. Leigh is not come 
to town, but I will do Mrs. Dingley's errand 
when I see him. What do I know wliether china 
be dear or no ? I once took the fanc}' of resolv- 
ing to grow mad for it, but it is now off. I sup- 
pose I told 3^ou so in some former letter. And so 
3'ou onh' want some salad dishes, and plates, 
and etc. ? Yes, yes, you shall ; I suppose you 
have named as much as will cost five pounds. 

Now to Stella's little postscript, and I am 
almost crazed that 3'ou vex yourself for not writ- 
ing. Cannot you dictate to Dingley, and not 
strain 3'our dear little e3'es ? I am sure it is the 
grief of m3^ soul to think 3'ou are out of order. 
Pra3' be quiet, and if you will write, shut 3'our 
eyes and write just a line, and no more, thus, 
How do you do^ Mrs. Stella ? That was written 
with m3' e3'es shut. Faith, I think it is better 
than when they are open ; and then Dingley may 
stand b3', and tell you when you go too high or 
too low. . . . 

Hester Vanliomrigh to Dean Sicift. 45 

I am sta3'ing before I can fold up this letter, 
till that wg\y D. is dr}^ in the last line but one. 
Do not 3'ou see it? O Lord, I am loath to leave 
you, faith, — but it must be so, till next time. 
Pox take that D! 1 will blot it, to dry it. 

[None of Stella's letters to Swift were preserved. The 
only memento of her found among his effects w^as a raven 
tress marked in his hand, " Only a woman's hair."} 

Hester Vanhoynrigh to Dean Sicift. 

Dublin, 1714. 
Well ! now I plainh' see how great a regard 
3'ou have for me. You bid me be easy and you 'd 
see me as often as j'ou could ; 3'ou would better 
have said as often as 3'ou could get the better of 
3^our inclination so much, or as often as you re- 
membered there w^as such a person in the world. 
If you continue to treat me as you do, you will not 
be made uneas}^ b}' me long. 'T is impossible to 
describe what I have suffered since I saw you last. 
I am sure I could have borne the rack much better 
than those killing, killing words of j^ours. Some- 
times I have resolved to die without seeing you 
more ; but those resolves, to your misfortune, did 
not last long, for there is something in human na- 

46 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

tare that prompts one so to find relief in this world, 
I must give way to it, and beg 3-011 'd see me and 
speak kindl}' to me ; for I am sure 3'ou would not 
condemn au}^ one to suffer as I have done could 
3'ou but know it. The reason I write 3'ou is be- 
cause I cannot tell it 3'ou should I see 3'ou ; for 
when I begin to complain, then you are angrj^, 
and there is something in 3'our look so awful that 
it strikes me dumb. Oh that you maj' but have 
so much regard for me left that this complaint 
may touch 3'our soul with pit}- ! I sa}- as little as 
ever I can. Did 3-ou but know what I felt, I am 
sure it would move 3-ou. Forgive me, and believe 
I cannot help telling 3-ou this, and live. 

The Same to the Same. 

No date. 

Is it possible that vou will do the ver3^ same 

thing I warned 3-ou of so latel3-? I believe 3'ou 

thought T onl3' rallied 3-ou when I told 3-ou the 

other night that I would pester 3-ou with letters. 

Did not I know 3'ou ver3^ well I should think 3-0U 

knew but little of the world, to imagine that a 

woman would not keep her word whenever she 

promised anything so malicious. Had not you 

better a thousand times throw awav one hour at 

Hester Vanhomrigh to Dean Siuift. 47 

some time or other of the day than be interrupted 
in your business at this rate ; for I know 'tis as 
impossible for you to burn in}^ letters witliout read- 
ing them as 'tis for me to avoid reproving you 
when you behave yourself w^rong. Once more I 
advise you, if you have any regard for your own 
quiet, to alter your behaviour quickl}, for I do 
assure you I have too much spirit to sit down 
contented with this treatment. Because I love 
darkness extremely, I here tell you now that 1 
have determined to tr}^ all manner of human ails 
to reclaim you, and if all these fail, I am resolved 
to have recourse to the black art, which, it is said, 
never does. Now see what inconveniences 3'ou 
will bring both me and yourself into. Pra}^ think 
calmly of it. Is it not better to come of yourself 
than to be brought b}" force, and that perhaps at 
a time when you have the most agreeable engage- 
ment in the world? for when I undertake to do 
anything I don't propose to do it by halves. But 
there is one thing falls out ver}' luckilj' for you, 
which is, that of all the passions, revenge hurries 
me least, so that 3'ou have it 3'et in your power 
to turn all this fxxvy into good humour, and depend 
on it, and more, I assure you. Come at what time 
you please you can never fail of being very well 

48 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

Dean Swifs Answer to the Above. 

If you write as you do, I shall come the sel- 
domer on purpose to be pleased with 3^our letters, 
which I never look into without wondering how a 
brat who cannot read can possibl}' write so well. 
You are mistaken. Send me a letter without 
your hand on the outside and I hold 3'ou a crown 
I shall not read it. But, raillery apart, I think it 
inconvenient, for a hundred reasons, that I should 
make your house a sort of constant dwelling-place. 
I wall certainly come as often as I conveniently 
can ; but health and the perpetual run of ill- 
weather hinders me from going out in the morn- 
ing, and my afternoons are so taken up, I know 
now how, that I am in rebellion with a dozen 
people beside yourself for not seeing them. For 
the rest you need make use of no black art be- 
sides your wits. 'T is a pity your eyes are not 
black, or I should have said the same of them ; 
but you are a white witch and can do no mis- 
chief. If you have emplo^'ed any of 3'our arts on 
the black scarf I defj' it for one reason. Guess. 
Adieu, for Dr. P 's come in to see me. 

Hester Vanhomrigh to Dean Swift. 49 

Hester VanJiomrigli to Dean Swift. 

Marley Abbey, Cellbridge, 1720. 

Believe me it is with the utmost regret that I 
now complain to you, because I know your good 
nature such that you cannot see an}' human 
creature miserable without being sensibh' touched ; 
yet what can I do? I must either unload m}- 
heart, and tell you its griefs, or sink under the 
inexpressible distress I now suffer by 3'our pro- 
digious neglect of me. 'T is now ten long weeks 
since I saw you, and in all that time I have never 
received but one letter from 3'ou, and a little note 
with an excuse. Oh, how have you forgot me ! 
You endeavour by severities to drive me from 
you ; nor can I blame 3'ou, for with the utmost dis- 
tress and confusion I behold myself the cause of 
uneasy reflections to 3'ou ; 3'et I cannot comfort 
you, but here declare that 'tis not in the power 
of time or of accident to lessen the inexpressi- 
ble passion which I have for .... 

Put my passion under the utmost restraint, 
send me as distant from 3'ou as the earth will 
allow, 3'et 3'ou cannot banish those charming- 
ideas which will ever stick by me whilst I have 
the use of memorv. Nor is the love I bear 
3'OU only seated in my soul, for there is not a 


50 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

single atom of my frame that is not blended with 
it; therefore don't flatter 3'ourself that separation 
will ever change m}' sentiments, for I find myself 
unquiet in the midst of silence, and tl\\ heart at 
once pierced with sorrow and love. For Heaven's 
sake, tell me what has caused this prodigious 
change in you which I have found- of late. If 
you have the least remains of pity for me left, 
tell me tenderly. No ; don't tell it, so that it 
may cause my present death, and don't sutfer me 
to live a life like a languishing death, which is the 
onh' life I can lead if you have lost any of your 
tenderness for me. 

Dean Swift to Hester Yanhomrigh, 
Gallstowx, near Ejn'inegad, July 5, 1721. 
It was not convenient, hardly possible, to 
write to ^-ou before now, though I had more 
than ordinary mind to do it, considering the dis- 
position I found you in last, though I hope I left 
you in a better. I must here beg \on to take 
more care of your health, in compau}^ and exer- 
cise, or else the spleen will get the better of 3'ou, 
than which there is not a more foolish or trouble- 
some disease, and what jou have no pretences in 
the world to, if all the advantages in life can be 

Dean Siclft to Hester Vanhomricjh. 51 

any defence against it. Cad assures me he con- 
tinues to esteem and love and value you above all 
things, and so will do to the end of his life, but at 
the same time entreats that 3'ou ^vould not make 
yourself or him unhappy by imaginations. The 
wisest men in all ages have thought it the best 
course to seize the minutes as they fl}' and to make 
every innocent action an amusement. If you 
knew how I struggle for a little health, what uneas- 
iness I am at in riding and walking, and refrain- 
ing from everything agreeable to my taste, you 
would think it a small thing to take a coach now 
and then, and converse with fools and im perti- 
nents, to avoid spleen and sickness. Without 
health 3'ou will lose all desire of drinking your 
coffee, and become so low as to have no spirits. 

. . . Pra}^ write me cheerfully without com- 
plaints or expostulation, or else Cad shall know 
it and punish you. What is this world without 
being as easy in it as prudence and fortune can 
make it? I find it ever}' day more silly and insig- 
nificant, and I conform myself to it for my own 
ease. I am here as deep emplo\'ed in other folks' 
plantations and ditching as if they were m}' own 
concern, and think of my absent friends with 
delight, and hopes of seeing them happ}' and of 
being happy with them. 

52 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

Shall you, who have so much honour and good 
sense, act otherwise to make Cad and yourself 
miserable ? Settle 3'our affairs and quit this scoun- 
drel island, and things will be as you desire. 

I can sa}^ no more, being called away ; mais 

so^^ez assuree que jamais personne du monde a ete 

aimee, honoree, estimee, adoree par votre ami, 

que vous. I drank no coffee since I left 3'ou, nor 

intend to till I see you again ; there is none worth 

drinking but yours, if myself may be the judge. 


—4 — 

Lord Peterborough and the Countess of Suffolk. 

The correspondence of Lord Peterborough and Hen- 
rietta Howard, the Countess of Suffolk, is one of the best 
examples of that kind of courtly gallantry, fashionable in 
the eighteenth century, which amused itself witli making 
love without much feeling of the passion. It is as pinch- 
beck and insincere as the age in which it was written. 
But those persons who were playing at love, like Lord 
Peterborough, learned how to theorize and reason very 
wisely upon what they could not feel ; and much of what 
they write miglit be accepted as very gospel in any of 
those courts of love held in mediaeval times, where the 
code of the passion was laid down to lovers as rigidly as a 
code in law. 

Lord Peterborough was one of the wittiest men of his 
time, — for so many years a gallant that he could not put 
aside that character, even with age. He must have been 
over sixty when this correspondence began. 

Lord Petcrhoroufjh and Countess of Suffolk. 53 

Although the letters are couched in such high-flown 
terms, tlie ancient lover affected to himself and to others 
to be in dead earnest, and Mrs. Howard seems to have 
been somewhat embarrassed in what spirit to answer 
them. She is said to have called upon John Ga}', the poet, 
to help her compose some fitting replies ; but Gay, although 
clever enough at another sort of writing, was much too 
naive for this kind of retort, and the letters in which Mrs. 
Howard's feminine pen is plainest visible are by far the 

Henrietta Howard, the Countess of Suffolk, was one of 
the court beauties of her century, and for several years 
a favourite of George H. Later in life she married Sir 
George Berkeley, and the match turned out a very happy 
one. After this marriage Lord Peterborough wrote her 
and her husband very sensibly in the way of friendship. 

Horace Walpole, in his gossiping letters, thus describes 
her : " Lady Suffolk was of a just height, well made, ex- 
tremely fair, with the finest light brown hair ; was remark, 
ably genteel, and always well dressed with taste and 
simplicity. Those were her personal charms, for her face 
was regular and agreeable rather than beautiful, and those 
attractions she retained with little diminution till her death 
at the age of seventy-nine. Her mental qualifications 
were not so shining. Her eyes and countenance showed 
her character, which was grave and mild ; her strict love 
of truth and her accurate memory were always in unison. 
She was discreet without being reserved, and having no 
bad qualities and being constant to her connections, she 
preserved uncommon respect to the end of her life." 

A picture of the time shows her as " a tall figure in a 
green silk with rose-colored ribands, fair hair and skin, a 
white muslin apron with ruffles, a white round arm, and a 

54 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

chip hat with flowers, which leaves her light blond hair and 
fair broad forehead exposed." It is said tliat although slie 
lived to tlie age of seventy-nine, she was singularl}^ young- 
looking always, for she was incapable of the keen feeling 
and passionate sorrow wliich fade the cheek and mark the 
brow with lines. 

The first of the following letters is that with which Lord 
Peterborough opened the correspondence ; then follows one 
written after it had fairly opened, with Mrs. Howard's 
reply. She was by no means an unpractised letter-writer, 
as might be inferred from the fact that she called Gay to 
her aid on this occasion, for she exchanged letters with 
such men as Dean Swift, Pope, Arbuthnot, Lord Chester- 
field, Walpole, and other distinguished men who were her 
contemporaries. The letters are not dated, but were prob- 
ably written between 1720 and 1725. 

Lord Peterhorougli to Henrietta Howard. 

As I can as well live without meat or sleep as 
without thinking of her who has possession of my 
soul, so, to find some relief in never having any 
conversation with this adored lad}^, I have been 
forced, when alone, to make many a dialogue 
between her and myself; but, alas! Madam, the 
conclusions are all in her favour, and I am often 
more cruelly condemned by myself, — nay, more, 
her indifferefice and almost all her rigour are 

Permit me to give 3'ou an account of m}^ last 
duet with my partner ; and as by the original 

Lord PetcrhoTOiigli to Henrietta Howard. 55 

articles of our scribbling treaty, you were sin- 
cerel}' to tell me your opinion, so remember your 
long silence, and give me an answer to this. 

On my part I was representing to her the 
violence, the sincerity of my passion ; but what I 
most insisted on was, that in most circumstances 
it was different from that of other men. It is 
true I confessed, with common lovers, she was the 
person I wished should grant, but with this ad- 
dition, that she was the only woman that I could 
allow to refuse. In a word, I am resolved, nay, 
content, to be only hers, though it ma}' be impos- 
sible she should ever be mine. 

To bear injuries or miseries insensibh^ were a 
vain pretence ; not to resent, not to feel, is im- 
possible ; but when I dare venture to think she 
is unjust or cruel, my revenge falls upon all of 
the sex but herself. I hate, detest, and renounce 
all other creatures in hoop petticoats, and, b}^ a 
strange weakness, can onl}' wish well to her who 
has the power and will to make me miserable. 

Commonly lovers are animated b}^ the ga}'' 
look, the blooming cheeks, and the red lips of the 
mistress ; but, heavens ! what do I feel when I 
see anguish and paleness invade that charming 
face? M}" soul is in a mutin}' against those 
powers that suffer it, and m}' heart perfectly- melts 
away in tenderness. But for whom have I such 

56 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

concern? For that clear lady who scarce thinks 
of me, or scarce regretteth she makes me wretched. 

But alas ! it was in this last dialogue I found 
m}' miser}' complete ; for 3'ou must know, the 
lad}^ had Hstened with some attention. Mercy 
was in her looks, softness in her words, and gen- 
tleness in all her air. '' Were this all true," she 
asked, "what could you expect? — what do 3'ou 
think your due ? " 

Never was poor mortal so disma3'ed. Though 
she was absent I had not the courage to make one 
imaginary request ; had she been present I could 
onl}' have expressed my wishes by one trembling 
look. Oh, wretched prodigality, where one gives 
all and dare demand no return ! Oh, unfortunate 
avarice, which covets all and can merit nothing ! 
Oh, cruel ambition, which can be satisfied with 
nothing less but what no man can deserve ! 

It was long before I could recover from the 
terror and amaze into which I had thrown mjself. 
At last I ventured to make this answer : ' ^ If 
what I may pretend to be less than love, surely 
it is something more than friendship." 

The Same to the Same. 

LoYE is the general word, but upon many occa- 
sions verj^ improperly used ; for passions very 

Lord Peterhoroiigli to Henrietta Howard. 57 

different, if not quite opposite, go under the same 

I have found love in so man}' disguises and 
false appearances in others, and even in m3'self, 
that I thought the true passion undiscoverable and 
impossible to be described ; but what I pretend to 
represent I have s>o frequenth' felt, that methinks 
I should be the better able to express it. 

The beginnings of this passion, whether true or 
false, are pleasing ; but if true, the progress is 
through mountains and rocks. The unhappy trav- 
eller goes through rugged wa^'s, and, what is most 
cruel, he is walking in the dark on the edge of 
precipices ; he labours under a thousand difficul- 
ties ; — success must cost him dear, and then, 
alas ! the acquisition is insecure. 

The greatest hardship is this : we seem bound 
to the same port, w^e sail in treacherous seas in 
quest of a woman's heart, but without a compass ; 
there is no beaten path or common road ; as 
many objects, so many humours ; what prevails 
with one ma}' displease the other in this fantas- 
tic pilgrimage of love ; he that goes out of his 
way may soonest arrive at his journey's end ; and 
the bold have better success than the faithful, the 
foolish than the wise. 

But I have undertaken to define this passion 

58 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

which I allow to be called love. It is not the 
person who conlcl please me most, but her that I 
am most desirous to please, who is trul}' adored. 

To judge of this let us consider the character of 
a beauteous female coquette. This creatm'e seems 
designed to give a man pleasure, and pleasure 
without pain, though not qualified to give him 
love ; access is eas}', enjo3'ment sure. Free from 
restraint or obligations, not fettered with the 
chains of pretended constancy, you meet her with 
satisfaction and \o\\ part with ease ; and are 
warm enough for pleasure, not exposed to the 
heats of jealous^', and safe from the cold of de- 
spair. A true epicure (but not a lover) can con- 
tent himself with this, and this may be agreed to 
be the pleasure-giving lad}'. 

This is no unlively picture of a woman who can 
please, but far from that person to whom we re- 
sign our hearts in the delicate way of love. How 
shall I describe the woman capable of inspiring a 
true, respectful tenderness ? Who so fills the soul 
with herself that she leaves room for no other 
ideas but those of endeavouring to sen^e and please 
her? Self-interest, self-satisfaction, are too nat- 
ural, too powerful, to be quite destroyed, but they 
are in a manner laid asleep when at the same time 
we respect and fear her whom we love. 

Mrs. Hoivard to Lord Peterhorough. 59 

I mast alwa3's more or less endeavour to main- 
tain bv proof what I assert, but lam not at libert}' 
to pursue a pleasure that may give you too much 
trouble at a time. I begin m}^ next with telling 
you what Amoret should be, or what I think she is. 

Mrs, Howarcfs Reply to the Foregoing. 

One would imagine, by observing upon the 
world, that every man thought it neeessarj^ to be 
in love — just as he does to talk — to show his 
superiorit}' to a brute ; but such pretenders have 
only convinced us that they w^ant that qualitj' thej' 
w^ould be thought to have. 

How few are there horn with soids capable of 
friendship ! then how much fewer must there he ca- 
p)ahJe of love., for love includes friendship and much 
more hesides ! That you might mistake love in 
others., I grant 3 ou ; but I w^onder how yoxx could 
mistake it in yourself I should have thought, if 
an3'bod3" else had said so, he had never been in love. 

Those rocks and precipices and those mights- 
difficulties which you sa\^ are to be undergone in 
the progress of love, can only be meant in the 
pursuit of a coquette, or where there is no hope 
of a sincere return. Or perhaps 3^ou ma^^ suppose 
all women incapable of being touched with so del- 
icate a passion. 

60 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

In the voyage of love, 3'ou complain of great 
hardships, narrow seas, and no compass. You 
still think all women coquettes. He that can use 
art to subdue a woman is not in love ; for how can 
you suppose a man capable of acting by reason 
who has not one of his senses under command? 
Do you think a lover sees or hears his mistress 
like standers-by? Whatever her looks may be, 
or however she talks, he sees nothing but roses 
and lilies, and hears only an angel. 

The civilities of some women seem to me, like 
those of shop-keepers, to encourage a multitude 
of customers. Who is so obliging to all her lovers 
as a coquette ? She can express her civilities with 
the utmost ease and freedom to all her admirers 
alike ; while the person that loves, entirely neglects 
or forgets everybody for the sake of one. To a 
ivoman luho loves, every man is an impertirient who 
declares his passion, except the one man she loves. 

Your coquette or "pleasure-giving lady" that 
can part from 3'ou without regret, that cannot feel 
jealous}', and does not pretend to constanc}', I 
should think a ver}' undesirable thing. I have 
alwa3's imagined that they thought it necessar}^ 
at least to feign love in order to make themselves 
agreeable, and that the best dissemblers were the 
most admired. 

Letters of Richard Steele. 61 

Every one that loves thinks his own mistress 
an Amoret, and therefore ask any lover who and 
what Amoret is, and he will describe his own mis- 
tress as she appears to himself; but the common 
practice of men of gallantry is to make an Amoret 
of every lady they write to. And, my lord, after 
vou have summed up all the fine qualities neces- 
sary to make an Amoret, I am under some ap- 
prehensions you will conclude with a compliment, 
by saying, I am she. 

Letters of Richard Steele, 

Dick Steele may have had many weaknesses and 
some vices, but we could forgive a good deal of both to a 
man who could write so tenderly to a woman as he writes 
to his '' dear Prue." His wife was Miss Mary Scurlock, 
and the first two of the following letters were written to 
her during courtship. It is said that she was at first 
averse to marriage, but surrendered after a month's wooing, 
and then erased the dates of their letters, that in showing 
them to a friend it might not appear she was so quickly 

After marriage Steele's gayety, his conviviality, and his 
recklessness about getting into debt, must often have made 
trouble for Mrs. Steele, and she must have had much 
cause to reproach him. Yet he almost disarms censure 
by his penitent acknowledgment of his faults and by his 
constant affection. He is frequently dining out and sleep- 
ing out, but he never fails to send Mrs. Steele a loving 

62 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

word before dinner or bedtime. He goes to dine with 
Lord Halifax, and writes home : — 

1 DINE with Halifax, but shall be home at half-after- 
six. For thee I die, for thee 1 languish. 

Dick Steele. 

P. S. Dress yourself well, and look beautifully to 
please your faithful husband. 

" All women especially,'' says Thackeray, " are bound 
to be grateful to Steele, for he was the first of our writers 
who seemed both to admire and respect them ; " and every 
woman who reads the last and longest letter quoted here 
from Steele's correspondence will, I think, feel both grati- 
tude and tenderness. This was a public letter to be used 
as a dedicatory epistle to the *' Ladies' Library," a work in 
three volumes, which Steele published in 1714, after they 
had been seven years married. 

Mrs. Steele's correspondence has not been preserved. I 
find only these few lines of prose and the dozen lines of 
verse following, to denote in what spirit she met his affec- 
tion. The first seems to have been written after a little 
tiff between the married lovers, probably concerning 
money matters. 

" It is but an addition to our uneasiness to be at variance 
Avith each other. I beg your pardon if I have offended you. 
God forgive you for adding to the sorrow of a heavy 
heart that is above all sorrow but for your sake." 

Mrs. Steele to her Husband, 

Ah, Dick Steele, that I were sure 
-Your love, like mine, would still endure; 
That time nor absence, which destroys 
The cares of lovers and their joys, 
May never rob me of that part 

Richard Steele to Mary Scurlock. 63 

Which you have given me of your heart. 
Others, unenvied, may possess 
Whatever the}^ think happiness ; 
Grant this, God, my chief request, — 
In his dear arms may 1 forever rest. 

Steele to Mary Scurlock. 

Lord Sunderland's Office, 1707. 

Madam, — With what language shall I address 
my lovel}^ fair, to acquaint her with the senti- 
ments of a heart she delights to torture ? I have 
not a minute's quiet out of 3^our sight ; and when 
I am with 3'ou, 3'ou use me with so much distance 
that I am still in a state of absence, heightened 
with a view of the charms which I am denied to 
approach. In a word, you must give me either 
a fan, a mask, or a glove 3'ou have worn, or 
I cannot live ; otherwise 3'ou must expect that 
I'll kiss your hand, or, when I next sit b}' you, 
steal 3'our handkerchief. You 3'ourself are too 
great a bounty to be received at once ; therefore 
I must be prepared 113^ degrees, lest the might3^ 
gift distract me with jo3\ Dear Mrs. Scurlock, I 
am tired with calling 3 ou b3' that name ; therefore, 
sa3' the da3" in which 3'ou will take that of. Madam, 

Your most obedient, most devoted humble ser- 

Rich. Steele. 

64 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

The Same to (he Same. 

Madam, — It is the hardest thing in the world 
to be in love, and yet attend to business. As for 
me, all who speak to me find it out, and I must 
lock myself up, or other people will do it for me. 

A gentleman asked me this morning, " What 
news from Lisbon?" and I answered, '^ She is 
exquisitel}' handsome." Another desired to know 
when I had been last at Hampton Court. I re- 
plied, '' It will be on Tuesday' come se'nnight." 
Pr'ythee, allow me at least to kiss your hand 
before that day, that m}^ mind ma}' be in some 
composure. O love ! 

A thousand torments dwell about thee, 
Yet who would live to live without thee ? 

Methinks I could write a volume to you ; but all 

the language on earth would fail in sajing how 

much, and with what disinterested passion, 

I am ever yours, 

Rich. Steele. 

Steele to Ids Wife. 

Sept. 13, 1708. 
Dear Prue, — I write to 3'ou in obedience to 
what 3'ou ordered me, but there are not words to 

Richard Steele to Ms Wife. 65 

express the tenderness I have for you. Love is 
too harsh a word for it ; but if yon knew how my 
heart aches when you speak an nnkind word to 
me, and springs with J03' when 3'ou smile upon 
me, I am sure 3'ou would place 3'our glor}- rather 
in preserving my happiness, like a good wife, 
than tormenting me like a peevish beanty. Good 
Prue, write me word 3'ou shall be overjoyed at 
my return to 3'ou, and pitj^ the awkward figure I 
make when I pretend to resist you, b}' complying 
alwa^'s with the reasonable demands of 

Your enamoured husband, 

Rich. Steele. 
— • — 

The Same to the Same. 

Sept. 21, 1708. 
Dear, dear Prue, — Your pretty letter, with 
so much good-nature and kindness, which I re- 
ceived yesterday, is a perfect treasure to me. I 
am at present very much out of humour upon an- 
other account, T3Ton having put off payment of my 
eight hundred, which I ought to have received 
yesterday, till further time. But I hope when Mr. 
Clay comes to town to-morrow, he will see me 
justified. I am, with the tenderest affection, 
Ever 3'ours, 

5 Rich. Steele. 

66 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

Tlie Same to the Same. 

Sept. 30, 1710. 
Dear Prue, — I am very sleepy and tired, but 
could not think of closing my eyes till I had told 
3'ou I am, dearest creature, 

Your most affectionate and faithful husband, 

Rich. Steele. 
From the press, one in the morning. 

The Same to the Same. 


Dear Madam, — If great obligations received 
are just motives for addresses of this kind, you 
have an unquestionable pretension to my acknowl- 
edgments who have condescended to give me your 
very self. I can make no return for so inestima- 
ble a favour, but in acknowledging the generosit}' 
of the giver. To have either wealth, wit, or 
beauty is generally a temptation to a woman to 
put an unreasonable value upon herself; but with 
all these in a degree which drew upon you the 
addresses of men of the amplest fortunes, 3'ou 
bestowed j^ourself where you could have no ex- 
pectations but from the gratitude of the receiver, 
though you knew he could exert that gratitude in 
no other returns but esteem and love. For which 

Riclmrd Steele to his Wife. 67 

must I first thank 3^011, — for what 3'ou have de- 
nied yourself or what 3'ou have bestowed upon 

I owe to 3'ou, that for my sake 3'ou have over- 
looked the prospect of living in pomp and plent}', 
and I have not been circumspect enough to pre- 
serve 3'ou from care and sorrow. I will not dwell 
upon this particular : you are so good a wife that 
I know 3'ou think I rob 3'ou of more than I can 
give, when I sa3' anything in your favour to m3^ 
own disadvantage. Whoever should see or hear 
you, w^ould think it were worth leaving all in the 
world for 3'ou ; while I, habituall3' possessed of 
that happiness, have been throwing awa3' impor- 
tant endeavours for the rest of mankind, to the 
neglect of her, for whom ever3' other man in his 
senses would be apt to sacrifice ever3'thing else. 

I know not b3" what unreasonable prepossession 
it is, but methinks there must be something aus- 
tere to give authorit3' to wisdom, and I cannot 
account for having onl3' rallied man3' reasonable 
sentiments of 3'ours, but that you are too beauti- 
ful to appear judicious. One may grow fond, but 
not wise, from what is said b3' so lovel3' a coun- 
sellor. Hard fate, that 3'ou have been lessened 
by 3 our perfections, and lost power b3' 3'our ver3' 

68 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

That ingenuous spirit in all 3'our behaviour, 
that familiar grace in 3'our words and actions, has 
for these seven 3'ears onl}' inspired admiration 
and love. But experience has taught me, the 
best counsel I ever have received has been pro- 
nounced b}' the fairest and softest lips, and con- 
vinced me that in you I am blessed with a wise 
friend, as well as a charming mistress. 

Your mind shall no longer suffer hy youv per- 
son ; nor shall your eyes for the future dazzle me 
into a blindness towards your understanding. I 
rejoice, in this public manner, to show mj esteem 
for you, and must do you the justice to say that 
there can be no virtue represented in all this col- 
lection for the female world, which I have not 
known 3'ou exert as far as the opportunities of 
your fortune have given you leave. Forgive me, 
that my heart overflows with love and gratitude 
for daily instances of 3'our prudent economy, the 
just disposition 3'ou make of 3'our little affairs, 
3'our cheerfulness in dispatch of them, your pru- 
dent forbearance of any reflection that the3' might 
have needed less vigilance if 3'ou had disposed of 
3'our fortune more suitabl3" ; in short, for all the 
arguments 3'ou every da3^ give me of a generous 
and sincere affection. 

It is impossible for me to look back on man3' 

Richard Steele to his Wife. 69 

evils and pains which I have suffered since we 
came together, without a pleasure which is not to 
be expressed, from the proofs I have had in these 
circumstances of your unweaiied goodness. How 
often has your tenderness removed pam from my 
sick head ! how often anguish from my afflicted 
heart ! With how skilful patience have I known 
3'ou comply with the vain projects which pain has 
suggested, to have an aching limb removed by 
journeying from one side of the room to another ! 
how often, the next instant, travelled the same 
ground again, without telling your patient it was 
to no purpose to change his situation ! If there 
are such beings as guardian angels, thus are they 
emplo3'ed. I will no more believe one of them 
more good in its inclinations, than I can conceive 
it more charming in form than my wife. 

But I offend, and forget what I w^rite to 3'Ou is 
to appear in public. You are so great a lover of 
home that I know it will be irksome to you to go 
into the world, even in an applause. I will end 
this without so much as mentioning 3'our little 
flock, or your own amiable figure at the head of 
it. That I think them preferable to all other 
children I know is the effect of passion and in- 
stinct ; that I belicA^e you the best of wives I 
know proceeds from experience and reason. 

70 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

I am, Madam, 3'onr most obliged husband and 
most obedient, humble servant, 

Richard Steele. 

The Letters of Laurence Sterne. 

It is difficult to believe that a man so sentimental as 
Laurence Sterxe could have been born out of France. 
He was at every period of his life desperately in love with 
somebody or other. He says, frankly enough, in apolo- 
gizing for some one else's weakness, "I myself must ever 
have some Dulcinea in my heart; it harmonizes the soul." 

The first letter quoted below is written to his wife, Miss 
Lumley, before marriage. She seems to have been as sen- 
timental as himself, and to have held off for several years 
from marriage with Sterne, who was then a poor clergy- 
man, perhaps fearing he might be less devoted after mar- 
riage, as well as from other prudential reasons respecting 
marriage settlements. She was justified in her hesitation, 
poor lady, and was, no doubt, a much neglected wife. 

One of tlie affairs which '* harmonized " his selfish soul 
was with Miss Katherine Tourraantelle, a young French 
lady whom he seems to have known before his marriage, 
although the letter to her following was written after Miss 
Lumley became his wife. 

But his most remarkable letters were to Mrs. Elizabeth 
Draper, the wife of a merchant in India, who had come to 
England for her health, which had suffered from the east- 
ern climate. Their correspondence was published under 
the title of " Yorick to Eliza." He had introduced himself, 
in Tristram Shandy ^ as a clergyman by the name of Yorick, 

Laurence Sterne to Elizabeth Lumleij. 71 

and retained tliis soubriquet in his letters. He also 
had addressed Mrs. Draper as his Brahmine, in allusion to 
her Indian residence, and so called himself her Brahmin. 
Their correspondence ended when Mrs. Draper returned 
to India, and the last letter from Sterne is written on her 

Sterne's expression of feeling in his Sentimental Journey, 
in his sermons, even in Tristram Shandg, impresses me as 
hollow and insincere. If it had not been for his humour his 
books never would have become English classics. But 
his humour, sometimes just flavoured with sentiment, is 
delicious. It is the Attic salt which preserves his work, 
and has given such characters as Uncle Tolnj and Corporal 
Trim a place in English literature. 

Laurence Sterne to Elizabeth Lumley [afterwards his Wife\ 

No date 
You bid me tell you, my dear L., how I bore 

3'oiir departure for S , and whether the valley 

where D'Estella stands retains still its looks, — or 
if I think the roses or jessamines smell as sweet 
as when you left it. Alas ! everything has lost 
its relish and look ! The hour you left D'Estella, 
I took to m V bed ; I was worn out by fevers of 
all kinds, but most by that fever of the heart with 
which thou knowest well I have been wasting these 
two 3'ears, and shall continue wasting till joxx 
quit S . The good Miss S , from the fore- 
bodings of the best of hearts, thinking I was ill, 

72 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

insisted upon my going to her. What can be the 
cause, my dear L., that I never have been able to 
see the face of this mutual friend but I feel m}^- 
self rent to pieces? She made me sta}' an hour 
with her ; and in that short space I burst into 
tears a dozen different times, and in such affec- 
tionate gusts of passion that she was constrained 
to leave the room, and sympathize in her dressing- 
room. " I have been weeping for you both," said 
she, in a tone of the sweetest pity ; ''for poor L.'s 
heart, — I have long known it ; her anguish is 
as sharp as yours, her heart as tender, her con- 
stancy as great, her virtue as heroic. Heaven 
brought you not together to be tormented." I 
could onl}' answer her with a kind look and a 
beav}^ sigh, and returned home to your lodgings 
(which I have hired till your return) to resign 
myself to misery. Fanny had prepared me a sup- 
per, — she is all attention to me, — but I sat over 
it with tears : a bitter sauce, my L., but I could eat 
it with no other; for the moment she began to 
spread my little table, my heart fainted within me. 
One solitar}^ plate, one knife, one fork, one glass ! 
I gave a thousand pensive, penetrating looks at the 
chair thou hast so often graced in those quiet and 
sentimental repasts, then laid down my knife 
and fork, and took out my handkerchief and 

Laurence Sterne to Elizcibeth Lumley. 73 

clapped it across my face, and wept like a child. I 
do so this veiy moment, my L. ; for, as I take up 
my pen, my poor pulse quickens, my pale face 
glows, and the tears are trickling down upon the 

paper as I trace the word L . O thou ! blessed 

in thyself and in thy virtues, — blessed to all that 
know thee, — to me most so, because more do I 
know of thee than all thy sex. This is the philter, 
my L., by which thou hast charmed me, and by 
which thou wilt hold me thine, whilst virtue and 
faith hold this w^orld together. This, my friend, is 

the plain and simple magic by which I told Miss 

I have won a place in that heart of thine, on which 
I depend so satisfied that time, or distance, or 
change of everything which might alarm the hearts 
of little men, create no uneas}' suspense in mine. 

Wast thou to stay in S these seven 3'ears, thj' 

friend, though he would grieve, scorns to doubt, or 
be doubted ; 't is the only exception where secu- 
rity is not the parent of danger. 

I told you poor Fann}- was all attention to me 
since your departure, — contrives every day bring- 
ing in the name of L. She told me last night (upon 
giving me some hartshorn) she had observed m^^ 
illness began the very day of 3'our departure for 

S ; that I had never held up my head, had 

seldom or scarce ever smiled, had fled from all 

74 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

societ}", — that she verilj' beheved I was broken- 
hearted, for she had never entered the room, or 
passed b}^ the door, but she heard me sigh heavik, 
— that I neither eat, nor slept, nor took pleasure 
in an3'thing as before. Judge, then, my L., can 
the valley look so well, or the roses and jessa- 
mine smell so sweet, as heretofore ? Ah me ! — 
but adieu ! — the vesper-bell calls me from thee to 

m}^ God ! 

L. Sterne. 

Laurence Sterne to Kitty Tourmantelle. 

My dear Kitty, — I have sent 3'ou a pot of 
sweetmeats and a pot of honey, neither of them 
half so sweet as yourself ; but don't be vain upon 
this, or presume to grow sour upon this character 
of sweetness I give you ; for if you do I shall send 
you a pot of pickles by way of contraries to sweeten 
30U up and bring 3'ou to 3'ourself again. What- 
ever changes happen to 3'ou, believe me I am 
unalterabl}' yours, and, according to 3'our motto, 
such a one, my dear Kitty, 

" Qui ne changera pas que en mourant.'' 

L. S. 

Laurence Sterne to Eliza Draper, 75 

Sterne to Eliza Draper. 

These letters have no dates, but were written in March 
and April, 1707. 

I CANNOT rest, Eliza, though I shall call on you 
at half past twelve, till I know how you do. May 
thy dear face smile, as thou risest, like the sun of 
this morning. I was much grieved to hear of your 
alarming indisposition yesterday ; and disappointed, 
too, at not being let in. Remember, my dear, 
that a friend has the same right as a physician. 
The etiquettes of this town (3'ou '11 say) say other- 
wise. No matter ! Delicacy and propriety do not 
alwa3's consist in observing frigid doctrines. 

' I am going out to breakfast, but shall be at m}' 
lodgings by eleven ; when I hope to read a single 
line under thine own hand, that thou art better, 
and will be glad to see th}' Brahmin. 

9 o'clock. 

The Same to the Same. 

I GOT th}' letter last night, Eliza, on my return 
from Lord Bathurst's, where I was heard (as I 
talked of thee an hour without intermission) with 
so much pleasure and attention that the good old 
Lord toasted 3'our health three different times ; 

76 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

and now he is in his eighty-fifth 3'ear, says he 
hopes to live long enough to be introduced as a 
friend to my fair Indian disciple, and to see her 
echpse all other Nabobesses as much in wealth 
as she does already in exterior and (what is far 
better) in interior merit. I hope so too. This 
nobleman is an old friend of mine. You know he 
was always the protector of men of wit and genius ; 
and he has had those of the last century, Addison, 
Steele, Pope, Swift, Prior, etc., etc., alwa3's at 
his table. The manner in which his notice began 
of me, was as singular as it was polite. He came 
up to me one daj^, as I was at the Princess of 
Wales's Court. '^ I want to know 3'ou, Mr. Sterne ; 
but it is fit 3'ou should know, also, who it is that 
wishes this pleasure. You have heard" (continued 
he) "of an old Lord Bathurst, of whom 3'our Popes 
and Swifts have sung and spoken so much. I have 
lived my life with geniuses of that cast, but have 
survived them ; and, despairing ever to find their 
equals, it is some 3'ears since I have closed my 
accounts and shut up m}' books, with thoughts of 
never opening them again ; but 3'ou have kindled 
a desire in me of opening them once more before I 
die ; which I now do : so go home and dine with 
me ! " This nobleman, I say, is a prodigj' ; for at 
eighty-five he has all the wit and promptness of a 

Laurence Sterne to Eliza Draper. 77 

man of thirt}- ; a disposition to be pleased, and a 
power to please others beyond whatever I knew ; 
added to which, a man of learning, courtesy, and 

He heard me talk of thee, Eliza, with uncommon 
satisfaction ; for there was only a third person, 
and of sensibilit}', with us ; and a most sentimental 
afternoon, till nine o'clock, have we passed ! But 
thou, EUza, w^ert the star that conducted and 
enUvened the discourse ; and when I talked not of 
thee, still didst thou fill my mind, and warmed 
every thought I uttered ; for I am not ashamed to 
acknowledge I greatly miss thee. Best of all good 
girls ! the sufferings I have sustained the whole 
night on account of thine, Eliza, are beyond m}' 
power of words. Assuredly does Heaven give 
strength proportioned to the weight he lays upon 
us ! Thou hast been bowed down, my child, with 
ever}' burden that sorrow of heart and pain of 
body could inflict upon a poor being ; and still 
thou tellest me thou art beginning to get ease, — 
thy fever gone, th}^ sickness, the pain in thy side, 
vanishing also. May every evil so vanish that 
thwarts Eliza's happiness, or but awakens thy fears 
for a moment ! Fear nothing, my dear ! Hope 
everything ; and the balm of this passion wdll shed 
its influence on thy health, and make thee enjoy a 

78 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

spring of 3'oiith and cheerfulness, more than thou 
hast 3'et tasted. 

And so thou hast fixed th}^ Brahmhi's portrait 
over thy >vriting-desk, and will consult it in all 
difficulties. Grateful and good girl ! Yorick smiles 
contentedly over all thou dost ; his picture does 
not do justice to his own complacency. 

Th}^ sweet little plan and distribution of thy 
time — how worthy of thee ! Indeed, Eliza, 
thou lea vest me nothing to direct thee in, — thou 
leavest me nothing to require, nothing to ask, but 
a continuation of that conduct which won ni}^ es- 
teem and has made me th}' friend forever. 

Ma}' the roses come quick back to thy cheeks 
and the rubies to thy lips ! But trust my declara- 
tion, Eliza, that th}^ husband (if he is the good, 
feeling man that I wish him) will press thee to 
him with more honest warmth and affection, and 
kiss thy pale, poor, dejected face with more trans- 
port than he would be able to do in the best 
bloom of all thy beauty ; and so he ought, or I 
pit}' him. He must have strange feelings if he 
knows not the value of such a creature as thou art. 

I am glad Miss Light goes with you. She may 
relieve you from many anxious moments. I am 
glad your shipmates are friendly beings. You 
could least dispense with what is contrary to your 

Laurence Sterne to Eliza Draper, 79 

own nature, which is soft and gentle, EHza. It 
would civilize savages ; though pity were it thou 
shouldst be tainted with the office ! How canst 
thou make apologies for thy last letter? 'tis 
most delicious to me, for the very reason you 
excuse it. Write to me, my child, only such. Let 
them speak the easy carelessness of a heart that 
opens itself, anyhow and everyhow, to a man you 
ought to esteem and trust. Such, Eliza, I write 
to thee ; and so I should ever Uve with thee, most 
artlessl}', most affectionately, if Providence per- 
mitted thy residence in the same section of the 
globe, for I am all that honor and affection can 
make me, 

Thy Brahmin. 

The Same to the Same. 

My dear Eliza, — I have been within the 
verge of the gates of death. I was ill the last 
time I wrote to you, and apprehensive of what 
would be the consequence. My fears were but 
too well founded ; for, in ten minutes after I 
dispatched my letter, this poor, fine-spun frame 
of Yorick's gave way, and I broke a vessel in my 
breast and could not stop the loss of blood till 
four this morning. I have filled all thy India 

80 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

handkerchiefs with it. It came, I think, from my 
heart. I fell asleep through weakness. At six 
I woke with the bosom of m}' shirt steeped in 
tears. I dreamt I was sitting under the canopy 
of Indolence, and that thou earnest into the room 
with a shawl in thy hand, and told me m}' spirit 
had flown to thee in the Downs, with tidings of 
my fate ; and that 3'ou were come to administer 
what consolation filial affection could bestow, and 
to receive m}' parting breath and blessing. With 
that 3'ou folded the shawl about my waist, and, 
kneeling, supplicated my attention. I awoke, 
but in what a frame ! O my God! "But thou 
wilt number my tears, and put them all into thy 
bottle." Dear girl ! I see thee ; thou art forever 
present to my fancy, — embracing m}' feeble 
knees and raising thy fine eyes to bid me be of 
comfort ; and when I talk to Lydia ^ the words 
of Esau, as uttered by thee, perpetualh^ ring in 
my ears: "Bless me even also, my father!" 
Blessing attend thee, thou child of my heart ! 

My bleeding is quite stopped, and I feel the 
principle of life strong within me ; so be not 
alarmed, Eliza : I know I shall do well. I have 
eat my breakfast with hunger ; and I write to thee 
with a pleasure arising from that prophetic im- 

^ Lydia was liis daughter. 

Laurence Sterne to Eliza Draper. 81 

pression in my imagination, that "all will termi- 
nate to our heart's content." Comfort thj'self 
eternall}' with this persuasion, — "that the best of 
Beings (as thou hast sweeth' expressed it) could 
not, by a combination of accidents, produce such 
a chain of events merely to be the source of miser}' 
to the leading person engaged in them." The 
observation was verj' applicable, very good, and 
verj' eleganth' expressed. I wish mv memory 
did justice to the wording of it. Who taught you 
the art of writing so sweetly, Eliza? You have 
absolutely exalted it to a science. When I am in 
want of ready cash, and ill-health will not permit 
my genius to exert itself, I shall print 3*our letters 
as finished essa3's, " bj^ an unfortunate Indian 
Ladv." The style is new, and would almost be 
a sufficient recommendation for their selling well, 
without merit; but their natural ease and spirit 
is not to be equalled, I believe, in this section of 
the globe, nor, I will answer for it, by anv of your 
countrywomen in 3'ours. I have shown your 

letter to Mrs. B . and to half the literati in 

town. You shall not be angr}' with me for it, 
because I meant to do yon honour by it. You 
cannot imagine how many admirers your episto- 
lar}' productions have gained you, that have never 
viewed 3-our external merits. I only wonder 

82 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

where thoa couldst acquire th}' graces, th}' good- 
ness, tb}' accomplishments, — so connected ! so 
educated ! Nature has surely studied to make thee 
her peculiar care, for thou art (and not in my 
eyes alone) the best and fairest of all her works. 

And this is the last letter thou art to receive 
from me ; because the " Earl of Chatham " (I read 
in the f>^pers) is got to Downs ; and the wind, I 
find, is fair. If so, blessed woman ! take my last, 
last farewell I Cherish the remembrance of me ; 
think how I esteem, nay, how affectionatelj' I 
love thee, and what a price I set upon thee ! 
Adieu, adieu ! and with my adieu let me give thee 
one straight rule of conduct, that thou hast heard 
from my lips in a thousand forms ; but I concen- 
trate it in one word, 

Reverence Thyself. 

Adieu, once more. Eliza I Ma}' no anguish of 
heart plant a wrinkle upon thy face till I behold 
it again ! May no doubt or misgivings disturb 
the serenit}' of tin' mind, or awaken a painful 
thought about thy children ; for they are Yorick's, 
and Yorick is thy friend forever. Adieu, adieu, 
adieu ! 

Samuel Johnson to Mrs. Thrale. 

Samuel Johnson to Mrs. Thrale. 

Samuel Johnson's long friendship with Mrs. Thrale is 
almost historical. When Mr. and Mrs. Thrale found him 
one day at his lodgings, in one of his terrible fits of gloom, 
they generously took him to their pleasant house at 
Streatham, and for seventeen years their home was quite 
as welcome to Johnson as if he had owned a share in it. 
There was always a room set apart for him, a place of 
honour at table, and Mrs. Thrale, clever and witty, was 
always ready to pour out unHmited cups of tea and, best 
of all, to bear with liis bursts of ill-temper with the same 
cheerful spirit with which slie seems to have borne every- 
thing in life. This friendship continued long after Mr. 
Thrale's death, and gossip has even whispered that John- 
son w^ould have gladly made the vivacious widow his wife 
if he had not received too decided a repulse. 

The friendship continued, however, till it ended in quar- 
rel, which seems to liave been no fault of Mrs. Thrale's. 
It was pretty well known that her first marriage had been 
one of convenience, with a man almost double lier years. 
She was still a very charming and agreeable woman of 
about forty, with an independent fortune. It is not strange 
that she should have felt she had still a right to make a 
love-match. Perhaps her friends might not have disputed 
this right as fiercely as they did if her affections had not 
fallen upon Mr. Piozzi, who was an Italian and a music- 
teacher residing in London. But on these grounds the mar- 
riage was opposed with a bitterness difficult to understand, 
and Johnson was one of the bitterest of its opponents. 
Mrs. Thrale, who seems to have felt sincere friendship 
for the old philosopher, rough and bearish as he was, en- 
deavoured in vain to placate him. He wrote her a most 

84 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

violent remonstrance on the subject, and finally, when he 
found the marriage an accomplished fact, he sent her the 
letter — certainly eloquent and touching — which I have 
quoted third in this series. 

The end, however, did not justify his warning, or his 
comparison of Mrs. Thrale's fate to that of Queen Mary. 
Mr. Piozzi, who was an amiable, unpretentious man — 
well connected in his own country, although Johnson con- 
temptuously spoke of him as a "foreign fiddler" — made 
an excellent husband, and Mrs. Thrale enjoyed twenty- 
five years of happy wedlock as Mrs. Piozzi, under which 
name she published all her literary w^orks. 

Lichfield, Oct. 27, 1777. 

Dearest Madam, — You talk of writing and 
writing, as if 3'ou bad all the writing to 3'ourself. 
If our correspondence were printed, I am sure 
posterity — for posterit}^ is alwa^'s the authors' 
favourite — would say that I am a good writer too. 
To sit down so often w^ith nothing to sa}', — to say 
something so often, almost without conscious- 
ness of saying and without any remembrance of 
having said, — is a power of w^hich I will not vio- 
late my modesty by boasting ; but I do not be- 
lieve everybod}' has it. 

Some, when they write to their friends, are all 
affection, some are wise and sententious ; some 
strain their powers for efforts of gayety, some 
write news, and some write secrets ; but to make 
a letter without affection, without wisdom, with- 

Samuel Johnson to Mrs. Thrale. 85 

out gay ety, without news, and without a secret, is, 
doubtless, the great epistoHc art. 

In a man's letters, you know, Madam, his soul 
lies naked. His letters are only the mirror of his 
breast, — whatever passes within him is there 
shown undisguised in its natural progress ; nothing 
is inverted, nothing distorted ; you see systems 
in their elements, you discover actions in their 

Of this great truth, sounded b\' the knowing to 
the ignorant, and so echoed by the ignorant to 
the knowing, what evidence have 3 on now before 
you? Is not m}^ soul laid open before you in 
these veracious pages? Do you not see me re- 
duced to my first principles? This is the pleas- 
ure of corresponding with a friend, where doubt 
and distrust have no place, and everything is said 
as it is tl}Ought. These are the letters by which 
souls are united, and by which minds naturall}' in 
unison move each other as they are moved them- 
selves. I know, dearest Uxdv, that in the perusal 
of this — such is the consanguinit}' of our intel- 
lects — you will be touched as I am touched. I 
have indeed concealed nothing from you, nor do 
I ever expect to repent of having thus opened my 
heart. I am, &c., 

Samuel Johnson. 

86 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

The Same to the Same. 

Written by Johnson to Mrs. Tlirale after her friendship 
for him liad begun to decline. 

Since you have written to me with the atten- 
tion and tenderness of ancient times, your letters 
give me a great part of the plieasure which a life 
of solitude admits. You will never bestow any 
share of your good-will on one who deserves bet- 
ter. Those icho have loved longest love best. A 
sudden blaze of affection may hy a single blast of 
coldness be extinguished ; but that fondness which 
length of time has connected with manj^ circum- 
stances and occasions, though it may for a while 
be depressed b}^ disgust or resentment, with or 
without a cause, is hourly revived by accidental 
recollection. To those that have been much to- 
gether, everything heard and everything seen re- 
calls some pleasure communicated, or some benefit 
conferred, some pett}' quarrel or some slight en- 
dearment. Esteem of great powers, or amiable 
qualities newh^ discovered, may embroider a day 
or a week, but a friendship of twenty years is 
interwoven with the texture of life. A friend 
may be often found and lost, but an old friend 
never can be found, and nature has provided that 
he cannot easily be lost. 

Samuel Johnson to Mrs. Tlirale. 87 

The Same to the Same. 

After Mrs. Thrale's marriage to Mr. Piozzi was an- 
nounced, Johnson wrote her the following, — his last letter 
to her. 

London, July 8, 1784. 

Dear Madam, — What you have done, however 
1 may lament it, I have no pretence to resent, as 
it has not been injurious to me. I, therefore, 
breathe out one sigh more of tenderness, perhaps 
useless, but at least sincere. 

I wish that God may grant you everj' blessing, 
that you may be happy in this world for its short 
continuance, and eternally happy in a better state ; 
and whatever I can contribute to 3'our happiness 
I am very read}' to repay for the kindness which 
soothed twenty years of a life radicall}' wretched. 

Do not think slight!}' of the advice which I now 
presume to offer. Prevail upon Mr. Piozzi to 
settle in England ; you may live here with more 
dignity than in Italy, and with more security ; 
your rank will be higher, and your fortune more 
under your own eye. I desire not to detail my 
reasons ; but every argument of prudence and in- 
terest is for England, and only some phantoms of 
imagination seduce you to Italy. 

I am afraid, however, that my counsel is vain, 
yet I have eased my heart by giving it. 

88 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

When Queen Mary took the resokition of shel- 
tering herself in England, the Archbishop of St. 
Andrew's, attempting to dissuade her, attended 
her on her journey- ; and when the}' came to that 
irremeable stream that separated the two king- 
doms, walked by her side into the water, in the 
middle of which he seized her bridle, and with 
earnestness proportioned to her own danger and 
his own affection pressed her to return. The 
queen went forward. If the parallel reaches thus 
far, may it go no farther — the tears stand in my 

I am going into Derbyshire, and hope to be fol- 
lowed by your good wishes, for I am, with great 
affection, Yours, &c., 

Samuel Johnson. 

Letters of Horace Walpole and tlie Misses Berry, 

Walpole is well styled the " prince of letter- writers," 
and he is a most comfortahle one to read. One feels 
as if one were not getting into his confidence clandestinely 
in reading his letters, they are so evidently intended for 
any eye, in liis own time or later times, which would pe- 
ruse them with interest. He writes with unflagging viva- 
city through a lifetime which lasted almost eighty years, 
and his epistolary production fills nine stout octavos. If 
one wishes to know all the gossip, fashionable, political, 
theatrical, literary, and artistic, of the last three quarters 

Horace Walpole and the Misses Berry, 89 

of the eighteentli century he can know it as intimately by 
reading Walpole as if he had taken tea every evening, 
during that long period, with the most loquacious news- 
monger of the day. 

Walpole was unmarried, and preserved to the last his 
bachelor estate. But if other gossips than he speak true, he 
offered himself to each of the Misses Berry in succession 

Miss Mary and Miss Agnes Berry were English girls 
who had been for some years residing in Paris before they 
came to live in England, near Walpole. He formed for 
them both a very tender friendship, and one gets a better 
idea of his heart from his letters to them, than from any- 
thing else he ever wrote. They became most valuable ad- 
juncts to his life, and one can fancy his existence would 
have become dreary without them. He writes to one of 
his correspondents shortly after meeting them : " I have 
made a to me precious acquisition. It is the acquaintance 
of two young ladies of the name of Berry, whom I first 
saw last winter, and who have taken a house here with 
their father for the summer/' 

They finally settled on a small estate of his, sometimes 
called " Little Strawberry," after his larger house *' Straw- 
berry Hill," and he often spoke of the two ladies as his 
** Strawberries." The small house which they occupied, 
where beautiful Kitty Clive the actress had once lived, he 
bequeathed to the sisters in his will. 

Although he writes with equal affection to the two sis- 
ters, Miss Mary Berry was doubtless the favourite, and the 
one rumour most frequently assigned to liim as a wife. 
When one of his nieces used to ask him jestingly when she 
should *' call Miss Berry aunt," he answered, " Whenever 
Miss Berry chooses." Miss Martineau, who met Miss Berry 

90 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

late in life (she lived to extreme age), says she could doubt- 
less, had she chosen, have been the Countess of Orford. 

But if the brilliant old peer ever desired such a marriage 
his letters rather disavow it, as we shall see in reading 
some of the following ; and his feeling may have been only 
the tender, half-paternal friendship which a man of seventy- 
three felt for two sensible and clever young women of 
twenty-five and six, who were charmed by his wit and 
knowledge of the world, and ready to cheer his latest years 
with a great deal of their pleasant society. 

Walpole to the Misses Berry. 

Feb. 2, 1789. 

I AM sorry — in the sense of the word before it 
meant, like a Hebrew word, glad or sorry — that 
I am engaged this evening ; and I am at 3'our 
command on Tuesday, as it is always my inclina- 
tion to be. 

It is a misfortune that words become so much 
the current coin of societ}^, that like King Wil- 
liam's shillings they have no impression left ; they 
are worn so smooth that they mark no more to 
whom the}' first belonged than to whom they do 
belong, and are not worth even the twelvepence 
into which the}' may be changed. But if the}' 
mean too little, they may seem to mean too much 
too ; especially when an old man (who is often 
synonymous for a miser) parts with them. I 

Horace Walpole and the Misses Berry. 91 

am afraid of protesting how much I dehght in your 
soeietj', lest I should seem to affect being gallant ; 
but if two negatives make an affirmative, why ma}' 
not two ridicules compose one piece of sense ? and 
therefore, as I am in love with 3'ou both, I trust 
it is a proof of the good sense of your devoted 

H. Walpole. 

The Same to the Same. 

Not long after their tirst acquaintance the Misses Berry 
went to the Continent for a visit, and it was during tliis 
absence that most of Walpole's letters to them were 

Sunday, Oct. 10, 1790. 
(The day of your departure for tlie Continent.) 

Is it possible to write to mj' beloved friends, and 
refrain from speaking of my grief at losing you, 
though it is but the continuation of what I have 
felt ever since I was stunned by 3'our intention of 
going abroad this autumn? Still I will not tire 
you with it often. In happy days I smiled and 
called you my dear wives ; now I can only think 
of you as darling children of whom I am be- 
reaved. As such I have loved and do love 
you, and, charming as you both are, I have no 
occasion to remind myself that I am past seventy- 
three. Your hearts, your understandings, vour 

92 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

virtues, and the cruel injustice of \o\xv fate have 
interested me in everything that concerns you ; 
and so far from having occasion to blush for any 
unbecoming weakness, I am proud of m}' affec- 
tion for you, and \evy proud of your condescend- 
ing to pass so man}^ hours with an old man, when 
ever3^bod3' admires 3'ou, and the most insensible 
allow that your good sense and information have 
formed you to converse with the most intelligent 
of our sex as well as your own ; and neither can 
tax 30 u with airs of pretension or affectation. 
Your simplicit3" and natural ease set off all 3'our 
other merits ; all these graces are lost to me, 
alas ! when I have no time to lose. 

Sensible as I am to my loss, it will occup3' but 
part of my thoughts, till I know you safel3' landed, 
and arrived safely in Turin ; not till you are there, 
and I learn so, will m3' anxiet3' subside, and settle 
into stead3^, selfish sorrow. I looked at ever3" 
weathercock as I came along the road to-da3' and 
was happ3^ to see every one pointing northeast. 
May they do so to-morrow. 

Forgive me for writing nothing to-night but 
about 3'ou two and myself. Of what can I have 
thought else? I have not spoken to a single per- 
son but m3^ own servants since we parted last 
night. I found a message here from Miss Howe 

Horace Walpole and the Misses Berrij. 93 

to invite me for this evening. Do 3'ou think I 
have not preferred staying at home to write to 
3'ou, as this must go to London to-morrow morn- 
ing to be read}' for Tuesday's post ? 

My future letters shall talk of other things 
when I know of an3'thing worth repeating, or per- 
haps any trifle, for I am determined to forbid m}'- 
self lamentations that would weary 3'ou ; and the 
frequenc}^ of my letters will prove there is no for- 
getfulness. If I live to see you again, you will 
then judge whether I am changed ; but a friend- 
ship so rational and pure as mine is, and so equal 
for both, is not likel}-^ to have any of the fickleness 
of youth, when it has none of its other ingredients. 
It was such a sweet consolation to the short time 
I ma}' have left, to fall into such society ; no won- 
der, then, that I am unhapp}- at that consolation 
being abridged. I pique myself on no philosophy 
but what a long use and knowledge of the world 
has given me, — the philosophy' of indifference to 
most persons and events. 1 do pique myself on 
not being ridiculous at this ver}' late period of my 
life ; but when there is not a grain of passion in 
my affection for you two, and when you both have 
the good sense not to feel displeased at my telling 
you so (though I hope 3'ou would have despised 
me for the contrary) , I am not ashamed to say 

94 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

your loss is heavy to me ; and that I am only rec- 
onciled to it b}' hoping that a winter in Itah^ and 
the journe3's and sea air will be ver}' beneficial to 
two constitutions so delicate as yours. Adieu, 
my dearest friends. It would be tautology to 
subscribe a name to a letter everj^ line of which 
would suit no other man in the world but the 

It was after the Misses Berry returned from abroad, that 
tliey took up their abode at " Little Strawberry/' which 
AYalpole had prepared for them. Innocent and evidently 
disinterested as Avas the friendship of the two Ladies for the 
old peer, it was made the subject of scandal, even to a 
report in the newspaper that they had designs upon his 
fortune. It was to one of these scandalous newspaper 
reports that Miss Berry indignantly alludes in a letter to 
Walpole from which the following are extracts. 

I DID not like to show 3 ou, nor did I feel myself, 
while with 3'ou, how much I vyas hurt b}' the news- 
paper. To be long honoured by 3 our friendship 
and remain unnoticed I knew was impossible and 
laid my account with ; but to have it imagined, 
imphed, or even hinted, that the purest friendship 
that ever actuated human bosoms could have an3' 
possible foundation in, or view to, interested mo- 
tives ... all this I confess I cannot bear ; not 
even your society can make up to me for it. 

Horace Walpole and the Misses Berry. 95 

Would to God we had remained abroad, where 
we might still have enjoyed as much of your con- 
fidence and friendship as ignorance and imperti- 
nence seem likelj' to allow us here. . . . Excuse 
the manner in which I write and in which I feel. 
My sentiments on newspapers have long been 
known to 3'ou, with regard to all who have not so 
honourabl}' distinguished themselves as to feel 
above such feeble but venomed shafts. 

Do not plague 3'ourself by answering this. The 
only consolation I can have is the knowledge of 
your sentiments, of whicli I need no conviction. 
I am relieved b}^ writing, and shall sleep sounder 
for having thus unburthened my heart. Good-, 

Miss Berry's letter was answered at once by Walpole 
in the following. 

Dec. 13, 1791. 

My dearest Angel, — I had two persons talk- 
ing law to me, and was forced to give an imme- 
diate answer, so that I could not even read your 
note till I had done ; and now I do read it, it 
.breaks m}' heart ! If ni}^ pure affection has 
brought grief and mortification on you I shall be 
the most miserable of men. M}^ nephew's death 
has brought a load upon me that I have not 
strength to bear, as I told General Conway this 

96 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

morning. . . . You know I scarce wish to live, but 
to cany you to Cliveden ! But I talk of nwself 
when I should speak to 3011 r mind. Is all your 
felicity to be in the power of a newspaper? who is 
not so? Are your virtue and purity, and m}' inno- 
cence about 3 ou, — are our consciences, no shield 
against anon3'mous folly or envy? Would you 
only condescend to be my friend if I were a beg- 
gar? . . . For 3'our sake, for poor mine^ combat 
such extravagant delicac>', and do not poison the 
few last days of life, which you, and yoii only, can 
sweeten. I am too exhausted to write more, but 
let 3'our heart and 3'our strong understanding re- 
,move such chimeras. 

How could 3'ou sa3' 3'ou wish 3'ou had not 
returned ? 

To Miss Mary Berry. 

From that time the friendship continued uninterrupted 
till Walpole's death in 1797. There is one slight allusion 
to the report of his being in love with them in this letter to 
the two ladies written iwo years after tlie date of the above. 

To the two Misses Berry in Yorkshire, 

Tuesday Night, 8 o'clock, Sept. 17, 1793. 
My beloved Spouses, — Whom I love better 
than Solomon loved his one spouse — or his one 

Horace Walpole and the Misses Berry. 97 

thousand. I lament that the summer is over, not 
because of its uniquity, but because you two made 
it so delightful to me that six weeks of gout could 
not sour it. Pray take care of yourselves, not 
for 3'our own sakes, but for mine ; for as I have 
just had my quota of gout, I may possibly expect 
to see another summer ; and, as 3'ou allow that I 
do know my own, and when I wish for anj'thing 
and get it, am entirel}^ satisfied, 3'ou maj' depend 
upon it I shall be as happy with a third summer, 
if I reach it, as I have been with the two last. 

Consider, that I have been threescore years 
and ten looking for a societ}' that I perfect!}' like, 
and at last there dropped out of the clouds into 
Lady Herries's room, two young gentlewomen, 
who I so little thought were sent thither on pur- 
pose for me, that when I was told they were the 
charming Miss Berrys I would not even go to 
the side of the chamber where they sat. But as 
Fortune never throws anything at one's head with- 
out hitting one, I soon found that the charming 
Miss Berr3's were preciseh' ce qiCU me fallait, and 
that, though young enough to be my great-gi-and- 
daughters, and loveh' enough to turn the heads of 
all our youth, and sensible enough, if said 3'ouths 
have any brains, to set all their heads to rights 
again. Yes, sweet damsels, I have found that3'ou 

98 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

can bear to pass half your time with an antedilu- 
vian without cliscoA^ering anj' ennui^ or an}' disgust, 
though his greatest merit towards you is, that he 
is not one of those old fools who fancy the}' are 
in love in their dotage. I have no such vagary, 
though I am not sorry that some folks think I am 
so absurd, since it frets their selfishness. 

I must repeat it, keep in mind that both of you 
are delicate, and not strong. If you return in 
better health I shall not repine at your journey. 

Robert Burns to Ellison Beghle. 

The affections of Burns — always inclined to rove — 
were first seriously fixed on Ellison Begbie, a pretty ser- 
vant-lass in Lochlie, to whom he wrote the following offer 
of marriage. Not this letter, however, nor the beautiful 
verses of Mary Morrison, which he addressed to her, had 
any effect on her heart, and her refusal plunged him for a 
time into a deep melancholy. Years after he spoke of her 
as the one among all his early loves who would have made 
him the most suitable wife. 

Lochlie, 1780. 

My dear E., — I do not remember, in the 

course of your acquaintance and mine, ever to 

have heard your opinion on the ordinary way of 

falling in love, amongst people of our station of 

Robert Barns to Ellison Beyhie. 99 

life — I do not mean the persons who proceed in 
the wa}" of bargain, but those whose affection is 
really placed on the person. 

Though I be, as 3'ou know very well, but a 
very awkward lover myself, yet, as I have some 
opportunities of observing the conduct of others 
who are much better skilled in the affair of court- 
ship than I am, I often think it is owing to lucky 
chance more than to good management that there 
are not more unhappy marriages than usually 

It is natural for a young fellow to like the ac- 
quaintance of the females, and customary for him 
to keep their com pan}' when occasion serves. 
Some one of them is more agreeable to him than 
the rest ; there is something — he knows not 
what — pleases him — he knows not how — in her 
company. This I take to be what is called love 
with the greater part of us ; and I must own, my 
dear E., it is a hard game, such a one as you have 
to play when 3'ou meet with such a lover. You 
cannot admit but he is sincere ; and 3'et, though 
3'ou use him ever so favourably, perhaps in a tew 
months, or, at farthest, a 3'ear or two, the same 
unaccountable fanc}' may make him as distract- 
edly fond of another, whilst 3'ou are quite forgot. 
I am aware that perhaps the next time I have the 

/ 100 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

pleasure of seeing yon 3-011 may bid me take my 
own lesson home, and tell me that the passion I 
have professed for j'ou is perhaps one of those 
transient flashes I haA^e been describing ; bat I 
hope, my dear E., you will do me the justice to 
believe me when I assure 3'ou that the love I have 
for 3'ou is founded on the sacred principles of 
virtue and honour ; and, b3- consequence, so long- 
as you continue possessed of those amiable quali- 
ties which first inspired m3' passion for 3-ou, so 
long must I continue to love 3-ou. Believe me, 
my dear, it is love like this alone which can ren- 
der the married state happ3\ People ma3' talk of 
flames and raptures as long as they please, and a 
warm fanc3-, with a flow of 3'^outhful spirits, ma3' 
make them feel something like what they de- 
scribe ; but sure am I, the nobler faculties of the 
mind, with kindred feelings of the heart, can only 
be the foundation of friendship ; and it has alwa3's 
been my opinion that the married life is onl3^ 
friendship in a more exalted degree. 

If you will be so good as to grant m3' wishes, 
and it should please Providence to spare us to 
the latest periods of hfe, I can look forward and 
see that even then, though bent down with 
wrinkled age, — even then, when all other worldh" 
circumstances will be indifferent to me, I will 

Robert Burns to Mrs, McLehose, 101 

regard my E. with the tenclerest affection, — and 
for this plain reason, because she is still possessed 
of those noble qualities, improved to a much 
higher degree, which first inspired my affection 
for her. 

" O happy state, when souls each other draw, 
Where love is liberty, and nature law." 

I know, were I to speak in such a style to many 
a girl who thinks herself possessed of no small 
share of sense, she would think it ridiculous ; but 
the language of the heart is, m}^ dear E., the onl}' 
courtship I shall ever use to 3'ou. 

When I look over what I have written I am 
sensible it is vastl}' different from the ordinary 
style of courtship ; but I make no apology. I 
know 3'our good nature will excuse what 3'our 
good sense may see amiss. 

Robert Barns to Mrs, McLeJiose. 

Burns's correspondence with Mrs. McLebose, under tlie 
title of " Letters of Sylvander and Clarinda," has been 
several times published. He met Mrs. McLehose on his 
second visit to Edinburgh, and a warm affection sprang 
up between them. But Burns's " marriage lines " to Jean 
Armour held him in a relation wliich the law considered 
binding, and Mrs. McLeliose had a husband in the West 
Indies, who liad cruelly left her to a life of poverty and 

102 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

struggle with her children in Edinhurgh. Thus there 
was no hope of marriage between them ; and, after an ar- 
dent correspondence, from which the following letters are 
taken, tliey separated. Burns returned to Ayrshire and 
married Jean Armour, who had been turned out of doors 
by her father while Burns T^as writing to Clarinda in such 
rapturous terms in Edinburgh. \^ 

Syhander to Clarinda. 
Monday Evening, 11 o'clock, Jan. 14, 1788. 

Why have I not heard from 3-011, Clarinda? 
To-day I well expected it, and, before supper, 
when a letter to me was announced, vaj heart 
danced with rapture ; but behold, 't was some 
fool who had taken into his head to turn poet, 
and make me an offer of the first fruits of his 
nonsense. "It is not poetry, but prose run 

Did I ever repeat to 3'on an epigram I made on 
a Mr. Elphinston, who has given a translation 
of Martial, a famous Latin poet? The poetry of 
Elphinston can only equal his prose notes. I 
was sitting in a merchant's shop of my acquaint- 
ance, waiting somebody' ; he put Elphinston into 
my hand, and asked my opinion of it ; I begged 
leave to write it on a blank leaf, which I did, as 
you shall see on a new page : — 

Sylvander to Clarinda. 103 

To Mr. ElpUnston. 

O thou whom poesy abhors ! 
Whom poesy has turned out of doors ! 
Heard'st thou yon groan ? Proceed no further ! 
'T was laureird Martial calling murther ! 

I am determined to see 3'ou, if at all possible, 
on Saturda}^ evening. Next week I must sing : — 

" The niglit is my departing night, 

The morn 's the day I must awa' : 
There 's neither friend nor foe o' mine 

But wishes that I were awa' ! 
What I hae done for lack o' wit 

I never, never can reca' ; 
I hope ye 're a' my friends as yet. 

Gude night, and joy be wi' you a' ! " 

If I could see you sooner, I would be so much 
the happier ; but I would not purchase the dearest 
gratijication on earth, if it must be at your expense 
in worldly censure ; far less, inward peace ! 

I shall certainly be ashamed of thus scrawling 
whole sheets of incoherence. The only unity (a 
sad word with poets and critics !) in m^' ideas is 
Clarinda. There m}' heart " reigns and revels." 

" What art thou, Love ? whence are those charms, 
That thus thou bear'st an universal rule ? 
For thee the soldier quits his arms, 

The king turns slave, the wise man fool. 

104 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

In vain we chase thee from the field. 
And with vain thoughts resist the yoke : 

Next tide of blood, alas ! we yield ; * 
And all those high resolves are broke ! " 

I like to have quotations ready for every occa- 
sion. The}' give one's ideas so pat, and save the 
trouble of finding expressions adequate to one's 
feelings. I think it is one of the greatest pleas- 
ures attending a poetic genius, that we can give 
our woes, cares, jo3's, loves, &c., an embodied 
form in verse, which, to me, is ever immediate 
ease. Goldsmith finely says of his muse : — 
" Tliou source of all my bliss and all my woe : 
Who found me poor at first, and keep'st me so." 

My limb has been so well to-day that I have 
gone up and down stairs often without my staff. 
To-morrow I hope to walk once again on m}' own 
legs to dinner. It is only next street. Adieu ! 


— « — 

The Same to the Same. 

Monday, 21st January, 1788. 
... I AM a discontented ghost, a perturbed 
spirit. Clarinda, if ever 3'ou forget Sylvander 
ma}' 3'ou be happy, but he will be miserable. 

Oh, what a fool I am in love ! what an extraor- 
dinary prodigal of affection ! Why are your sex 

Sijlvander to Clarinda. 105 

called the tender sex, when I have never met with 
one who can repay me in passion? They are 
either not so rich in love as I am, or the}' are nig- 
gards where I am lavish. 

Thon whose I am, and whose are all my 
ways ! Thou seest me here, the hapless wreck 
of tides and tempests in m}' own bosom : do Thou 
direct to Thyself that ardent love for which I have 
so often sought a return, in vain, from my fellow- 
creatures ! If Thy goodness has yet such a gift 
in store for me, as an equal return of affection 
from her who, Thou knowest, is dearer to me than 
life, do Thou bless and hallow our bond of love 
and friendship ; watch over us in all our outgoings 
and incomings, for good ; and may the tie that 
unites our hearts be strong and indissoluble as 
the thread of man's immortal life ! 

1 am just going to take your Blackbird, — the 
sweetest, I am sure, that ever sung, — and prune 
its wings a little. 


The Same to the Same. 

Glasgow, February 18, 1788, 
Monday Evening, 9 o'clock. 

The attraction of Love, J find, is in an inverse 
proportion to the attraction of the Newtonian phi- 

106 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

losophj. In the system of Sir Isaac, the nearer 
objects are to one another the stronger is the at- 
tractive force : in ni}' S3'sten], ever}' milestone that 
marked my progress from Clarinda awakened a 
keener pang of attachment to her. How do yo\x 
feel, m}^ love ? is yonr heart ill at ease ? I fear it. 
God forbid that these persecutors should harass 
that peace which is more precious to me than my 
own ! Be assured I shall ever think of 3'ou, muse 
on 3'ou, and, in my hours of devotion, pray for 3'ou. 
The hour that 3'ou are not in all mj' thoughts — 
''be that hour darkness ! let the shadows of death 
cover it ! let it not be numbered in the hours of 
day ! " 

" When I forget my darling theme, 
Be my tongue mute ! my fancy paint no more ! 
And, dead to joy, forget my heart to beat ! " 

I have just met with my old friend, the ship- 
captain — guess my pleasure ! To meet 3-ou could 
alone have given me more. M3' brother William, 
too, the young saddler, has come to Glasgow to 
meet me ; and here are we three spending the 

I arrived here too late to write by post; but 
I '11 wrap half a dozen sheets of blank paper to- 
gether, and send it hy the FI3', under the name of 
a parcel. You shall hear from me next post town. 

Burns s Last Letter to Clarinda. 107 

I would write yoa a longer letter, but for the pres- 
ent circumstances of my friend. 

Adieu, my Clarinda ! I am just going to pro- 
pose your health by way of grace-drink. 


Burns'' s Last Letter to Clarinda. 

Friday, 9 o'clock, Night, 
21st March, 1788. 

I AM just now come in, and have read your 
letter. The first thing I did was to thank the 
Divine Disposer of events that he has had such 
happiness in store for me as the connection I have 
had with 3^ou. Life, m}' Clarinda, is a wearj^, bar- 
ren path ; and woe be to him or her that ventures 
on it alone ! For me, I have my dearest partner 
of m}^ soul : Clarinda and I will make out our 
pilgrimage together. Wherever I am, I shall con- 
stantly let her know how I go on, what I observe 
in the world around me, and what adventures I 
meet with. Will it please 3^ou, my love, to get, 
every week, or at least every fortnight, a packet, 
two or three sheets, full of remarks, nonsense, 
news, rhj-mes, and old songs? 

Will you open, with satisfaction and clehght, a 
letter from a man who loves you, who has loved 

108 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

3'ou, and who will love you to death, through 
death, and forever? O Clarinda ! what do I owe 
to Heaven for blessing me with such a piece of 
exalted excellence as 3'ou ! I call over your idea, 
as the miser counts over his treasure ! Tell me, 
w^ere 3'ou studious to please me last night? I am 
sure you did it to transport. How rich am I who 
have such a treasure as 3'ou ! You know me ; 
you know how to make me happy, and 3'ou do it 
most effectuall}'. God bless 3 ou with 

" Long life, long youth, long pleasure, and a friend ! " 

To morrow-night, according to yonr own direc- 
tion, I shall watch the window : 'tis the star that 
guides me to Paradise. The great relish to all is — 
that Honour — that Innocence — that Religion, are 
the witnesses and guarantees of our happiness. 
'' The Lord God knoweth," and perhaps ''Israel, 
he shall know" my love and 3'our merit. Adieu, 
Clarinda ! I am going to remember you in m}^ 
prayers. c? 

Mary Wollstoiiecraffs Letters, 

The name of Mary Wollstonecraft is better known, 
perhaps, than any exact facts concerning her. That slie 
was the mother of Mary Shelley, the poet's wife, and that 
she advocated extreme views on Woman's Rights, are the 

Mary WollstonecrajV s Letters. 109 

principal facts about lier as they exist in the minds of most 
who have ever heard of her at all. That she was a beau- 
tiful and gifted woman, romantic to excess, cruelly wronged 
in her affections, betrayed where she genuinely trusted, is 
almost entirely unknown. Tlie story of her life is a most 
pathetic one. Her childliood and girlhood were blighted 
by the cruelty and drunkenness of her father, whose brutal- 
ity at length sent Mary and her tw^o sisters from home, to 
struggle for a livelihood. To escape from a life too difficult 
to be borne by a soul less brave than that of Mary WoU- 
stonecraf t, one of the sisters married early and most unhap- 
pily, and returned upon Mary for support. All the poor 
girl's early experience of marriage was of the saddest and 
most revolting sort. To her, woman seemed forced by 
society to be the prey of man, the victim of brutality and 
injustice, and she longed, with the natural ardor of her 
disposition, to see her sex emancipated from what seemed a 
position of abject slavery. Thus she wrote A Vindication 
of the Rights of Woman, to claim for women superior oppor- 
tunities for education, and greater social and political rights, 
— a book embodying ideas then extremely radical, but 
which, for the most part, are hardly more advanced in sen- 
timent than most of the opinions held by the advocates of 
Woman's Rights in America or England to-day. This 
book set her apart as a woman. She was called a radical 
and an infidel, although in fact she shows in her works 
and letters a deep and sincere religious feeling. 

After she had begun her literary career the French 
Revolution broke out. She was a natural republican in 
sentiment, and she sympathized ardently with this revolu- 
tion, which was to her like the dawn of a new day for 
France. She went to Paris in '93, and when there found 
her position, as an Englishwoman, not altogether pleasant 

110 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

nor safe. There she met an American, Captain Gilbert 
Imlay, whose nationality was a protection to him in those 
excitmg days in Paris, as it was a sure passport to French 
favour to be a citizen of our new republic. Imlay extended 
some courtesy and protection to Mary Wollstonecraf t, and 
her feeling for him soon became one of the most trusting 
affection, — a feeling which he professed to return, and no 
doubt did return for a time. In the condition of things 
then existing, it would have been almost impossible for 
the pair to have been legally married in France. And 
Mary WoUstonecraf t's idea of marriage — generated by the 
bitter experience of mother, sister, and friends, in whose 
miseries she had shared — was that "a pure and mutual 
affection was marriage, and if love should die between a 
pair who had promised love, the marriage tie ought not 
and could not bind.'' The story that follows is an old one. 
Captain Imlay, whose name no generous mind Avho reads 
the following letters can ever hear mentioned without 
execration, took advantage of the ardent and tender heart 
which threw itself trustfully into his keeping. She con- 
sidered lierself his wife until death. He also addressed 
her, both in letters of affection and business, as his 
" beloved wife." But when absence, and other attractions 
which came during absence, asserted themselves over the 
shallow and base nature of the man, his affection began to 
wane. It is touching to trace the heart of the woman in 
these letters, and to see how it asserts itself over all her 
theories. She pours out to him her love, her reproaches, 
her fears, in words that seem written in " heart's blood 
turned to tears." It is touching also to read her first vague 
consciousness of the distinction between such a love as she 
felt and that of which he was only capable. She writes : 
**I have found I have more mind than you in one respect ; 

Mary Wollstonecraffs Letters. Ill 

because I can, without any violent effort of reason, find 
food for love in the same object much longer than you 
can. The way to my senses is through my heart, but, for- 
give me ! I think there is sometimes a shorter cut to yours." 

Two or three times they were parted and reunited. The 
birth of her cliild drew her more strongly to him, and for 
her child's sake she strove more ardently to draw him to 
her. As long as he professed to her that he had no other 
attachment she clung to him, even when almost hopeless 
of any affection from him, but at last, finding him engaged 
in a most unworthy intrigue under the roof which sheltered 
her and their child, she went out one night, in a state of 
madness, to put an end to her life. There is nothing out- 
side Hood's Bridge of Sighs which can parallel in sadness 
the description of the poor wretcli as she stood on Putney 
Bridge, in a soaking rain, waiting till her clothes should be 
so saturated that they would more quickly " drag her down 
to muddy death." She was rescued, however, by a Thames 
boatman before life was gone, and was restored to her 

One year before her death she married William Godwin, 
one of the most remarkable men of his time, and died in 
giving birth to her daughter. For a nature like hers the 
happiest and most fortunate solution of life's problem is 

She was buried in St. Pancras Churchyard in London, and 
it was by this grave, where she was wont to sit and read, 
and commune with her departed mother, that Shelley sought 
out Mary Godwin and asked her to become his wife. It 
was in St. Pancras Church that this congenial pair were 
afterwards married, as near as possible to the grave of the 
mother, some of whose finest qualities had descended upon 
her happier and more fortunate child. Shelley wrote of 

112 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

Mary Wollstonecraft thus — in the opening of the Revolt of 
Islam, which he dedicates to liis wife : — 

'' They sa^^ that thou wert lovely from thy birth, 

Of glorious parents, thou aspiring child. 
I wonder not — for One then left this earth 

Whose life was like a setting planet mild, 

Which clothed thee in the radiance undefiled 
Of its departing glorjM Still her fame 

Shines on thee, through the tempests dark and wild, 
Which shake these latter days, and thou canst claim 
The shelter from thy sire of an immortal name." 

These letters of Mary Wollstonecraft, which had been 
returned to her by Imlay, were published after her death 
by Godwin. He was severely criticised for making them 
public ; and indeed, like the letters of Vanessa to Swift, or 
of Keats to Fanny Brawne, they are too sacred for the 
vulgar eye, and ought to be read only by those who have 
hearts to feel for such suffering and such heart-break as 
is here made palpable upon the lifeless pages. I have 
selected a larger number from this collection of letters 
than usual, because the story they tell is so interesting and 
so touchingly told. As one letter follows another we see 
the falling off on the part of the lover, from passion to 
indifference, to neglect, and probably to dislike of his vic- 
tim. These poor time-worn letters, tear-stained doubtless, 
are, like a musical poem of Schumann, — a music full of 
passionate joy and passionate sadness, — the true story of 
a " Woman's Life and Love." 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay, 113 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay, 

Past 12 o'clock, Monday, August, 1793. 

I OBEY an emotion of my heart which made me 
think of wishing. thee, my love, good-night, before 
I go to rest, witli more tenderness than I can to- 
morrow when writing a hasty line or two under 

Colonel 's eye. You can scarcely imagine 

with what pleasure I anticipate the day when we 
are to begin almost to live together ; and you 
would smile to hear how man}' plans of employ- 
ment I have in my head now that I am confident 
m}' heart has found peace in your bosom. Cher- 
ish me with that dignified tenderness which I have 
only found in 3'ou, and your own dear girl will tr^^ 
to keep under a quickness of feeling that has 
sometimes given 3'ou pain. Yes, I will be good^ 
that I may deserve to be happy, and whilst you 
love me, I cannot again fall into that miserable 
state which renders life a burden almost too heavy 
to be borne. 

But good-night. God bless you, Sterne says 
that is equal to a kiss ; yet I would rather give 
you the kiss into the bargain, glowing with grat- 
itude to Heaven and affection to you. I like 
the word affection because it signifies something 

114 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

habitual, and we are soon to meet to try whether 
we have mind enough to keep our hearts warm. 

Mary Wollstonecraft. 

The Same to the Same. 

Wednesday Morx, August, 1793. 

I WILL never, if I am not entirely cured of 
quarrelling, begin to encourage " quick-coming 
fancies " when we are separated. Yesterda}", my 
love, I could not open 3'our letter for some time, 
and though it was not half so severe as I merited, 
it threw me into such a fit of trembling as seri- 
ouslj' alarmed me. I did not, as you may sup- 
pose, care for a little pain on my own account, 
but all the fears I had had for a few days past 
returned with fresh force. This morning I am 
better ; will you not be glad to hear it? You per- 
ceive that sorrow has almost made a child of me, 
and that I want to be soothed to peace. 

One thing you mistake in my character, and 
imagine that to be coldness which is just the 
contrary. For when I am hurt by the person 
most dear to me, I must let out a whole torrent 
of emotions, or else stifle them altogether, and it 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Tinlay, 115 

appears to me almost a dut}' to stifle them when 
I imagine that I am treated with coldness, I am 
afraid that I have vexed 3'ou, mj' own. I know 
the quickness of jour feelings, and let me, in the 
sincerity of m^' heart, assure you there is noth- 
ing I would not suffer to make you happy. M}' 
own happiness wholly depends on you, and, know- 
ing you as I do, when m}' reason is not clouded, 
I look forward to a rational prospect of as much 
felicity as the earth affords , with a dash of rapture 
into the bargain if 3'ou will look at me, when we 
meet again, with the look with which you liave 
sometimes greeted 

Your humbled 3'et most affectionate 


The Same to the Same. 

Paris, September, 1793, 
Friday Morning. 

A MAN whom a letter from Mr. previousl}" 

announced, called here yesterdav for the payment 
of a draft ; and as he seemed disappointed at 

not finding you at home, I sent him to Mr. . 

I have since seen him, and he tells me he has 
settled the business. 

So much for business. Ma}^ I venture to talk 
a little longer about less weighty affairs? How 

116 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

are 3'oa? I have been following \om all along 
the road this comfortless weather ; for when I am 
absent from those I loAe, my imagination is as 
lively as if my senses had never been gratified by 
their presence — I was going to say caresses ; 
and wh}' should I not? 

I have found that I have more mind than 3'ou 
in one respect ; because I can, without an}' vio- 
lent effort of reason, find food for love in the 
same object much longer than 3'ou can. The way 
to m}' senses is through xny heart ; but, forgive me ! 
I think there is sometimes a shorter cut to 3'ours. 

With ninety-nine men out of a hundred, a very 
sufficient dash of foll}^ is necessary' to render a 
woman piqicante^ a soft word for desirable ; and, 
bej'ond these casual ebulUtions of sj^mpathy, few 
look for enjoj^ment hy fostering a passion in their 
hearts. One reason, in short, why I wish my 
whole sex to become wiser is, that the foolish 
ones ma}^ not, by their pretty foil}', rob those 
whose sensibility keeps down their vanity, of the 
few roses that afford them some solace in the 
thorny road of life. 

I do not know how I fell into these reflections, 
excepting one thought produced it, — that these 
continual separations were necessary to warm 
your affection. Of late we are always separat- 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay. 117 

ing. Crack ! crack ! and aAvay you go I This 
joke wears the sallow cast of thought ; for, though 
I began to write cheerfully, some melancholy tears 
have found their w^ay into m}' e3'es that linger 
there, whilst a glow of tenderness at ra}' heart 
whispers that you are one of the best creatures 
in the world. Pardon, then, the vagaries of a 
mind that has been almost ^'crazed by care," as 
well as " crossed in hapless love," and bear with 
me a little longer. When we are settled in the 
country together, more duties will open before 
me, and my heart, which now, trembling into 
peace, is agitated by every emotion that awakens 
the remembrance of old griefs, will learn to rest 
on yours with that dignity your character, not to 
mention my own, demands. 

Take care of 3'ourself, and write soon to 3'our 
own girl (you may add dear, if 3'ou please), who 
sincerely loves 3'ou, and will trj' to convince 30U 
of it by becoming happier. 


The Same to the Same. 

Paris, January, 1794, 
Mouday ^ight. 
I HAVE just received your kind and rational let- 
ter, and would fain hide m}' face, glowing with 

118 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

shame for m}' foil}'. I would hide it in your bo- 
som if you would again open it to me, and nestle 
closel}^ till you bade my fluttering heart be still 
by saying that 3^0 n forgave me. With ej'es over- 
flowing with tears, and in the humblest attitude, 
I entreat joxx. Do not turn from me, for indeed 
I love you fondly, and have been ver}^ wretched 
since the night I was so cruell}' hurt b}^ thinking 
that 3'ou had no confidence in me. 

It is time for me to grow more reasonable ; a 
few more of these caprices of sensibilitv^ would 
destro}' me. . . . 

Write the moment you receive this. I shall 
count the minutes. But drop not an angry word. 
I cannot bear it. Yet, if 3 ou think I deserve a 
scolding (it does not admit of a question, I grant), 
wait till you come back, and then if 3'ou are 
angr3* one da3' I shall be sure of seeing 3'ou the 

did not write to 3'ou, I suppose, because 

he talked of going to Havre. Hearing that 1 was 
ill, he called ver3^ kindl3' on me, not dreaming 
that it was some words that he incautiousl3^ let 
fall which rendered me so. 

God bless you, m3' love ! Do not shut 3'our 
heart against a return of tenderness ; and as I 
now in fanc3^ cling to 3'ou, be more than ever m3^ 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay. 119 

support. Feel bat as affectionate when you read 

this letter as I did writing it, and you will make 

happy your 


The Same to the Same. 

Written after the birth of their child. 

Havre, Aug. 10, 1794. 
I RECEIVED both your letters to-da}'. I had 
reckoned on hearing from you yesterdaj-, there- 
fore was disappointed, though I imputed your 
silence to the right cause. I intended answering 
5'our kind letter immediately, that 3^ou might have 

felt the pleasure it gave me ; but came in, 

and some other things interrupted me, so that the 
fine vapour has evaporated, yet leaving a sweet 
scent behind. I have only to tell j'ou, what is 
sufficientl}' obvious, that the earnest desire I have 
shown to keep m}' place, or gain more ground in 
your heart, is a sure proof how necessarj' your 
affection is to my happiness. Still I do not think 
it false delicacy or foolish pride to wish that 
j'Our attention to mj' happiness should arise as 
much from love, which is always rather a selfish 
passion, as reason, — that is, I want 3'ou to pro- 
mote m}' felicity b}^ seeking your own. For, what- 

120 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

ever pleasure it may give me to discover your 
generosity of soul, I would not be dependent for 
3'our affection on the very qualitj^ I most admire. 
No : there are qualities in joxxy heart which de- 
mand m}' affection ; but unless the attachment 
appears to me clearly mutual, I shall labour only 
to esteem your character instead of cherishing a 
tenderness for j^our person. 

I write in a hurry, because the little one, who 
has been sleeping a long time, begins to call for 
me. Poor thing ! when I am sad I lament that 
all my affections grow on me, till thej- become too 
strong for my peace, though they all afford me 
snatches of exquisite enjo3^ment. This for our 
little girl was at first very reasonable, — more the 
effect of reason, a sense of dut}^ than feeling; 
now she has got into my heart and imagination, 
and when I walk out without her her little figure 
is ever dancing before me. 

You, too, have somehow clung round my heart. 
I found I could not eat my dinner in the great 
room, and when I took up the large knife to carve 
for mj'self, tears rushed iuto my e3'es. Do not, 
however, suppose that I am melancholy, for when 
you are from me I not only wonder how I can 
find fault with 3'ou, but how I can doubt 3'Our 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay. 121 

I will not mix Viwy comments on the enclosed 
(it roused m}' indignation) with the effusion of ten- 
derness with w4iich I assure you that 3'ou are the 
friend of my bosom and the prop of my heart. 


-—4 — 

The Same to the Same, 

Paris, Dec. 26, 1794. 
I HAYE been, my love, for some da3's tormented 
b}^ fears that I would not allow to assume a form. 
I had been expecting 3^ou dail}', and I heard that 
many A^essels had been driven on shore during the 
late gale. Well, I now see 3'our letter, and find 
that 3'ou are safe ; I will not regret, then, that 
your exertions have hitherto been so unavailing. 

Be that as it may, return to me when 3'ou have 

arranged the other matters w^hich has been 

crowding on you. I want to be sure that you are 
safe, and not separated from me by a sea that must 
be passed. For, feeling that I am happier than I 
ever was, do 3'ou wonder at my sometimes dread- 
ing that fate has not done persecuting me ? Come 
to me, my dearest friend, husband, father of my 
child ! All these fond ties glow at my heart at 
this moment, and dim m}' eyes. With 3'ou an in- 
dependence is desirable, — and it is always within 

122 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

our reach, if affluence escapes us ; without yon the 
world again appears empty to me. But I am 
recurring to some of the melanchol}' thoughts that 
have flitted across my mind for some daj's past, 
and haunted my dreams. 

My httle daiiing is indeed a sweet child ; and I 
am sorry that you are not here to see her little 
mind unfold itself. You talk of '-'- dalliance," but 
certainl}' no lover was ever more attached to his 
mistress than she is to me. Her ej'es follow me 
everj'where, and by affection I have the most 
despotic power over her. She is all vivacit}' or 
softness — yes, I love her more than I thought 
I should. When I have been hurt at yonv stay, I 
have embraced her as mj^ onl}' comfort — when 
pleased with 3'ou — for looking and laughing like 
3'ou ; na}', I cannot, I find, long be angry with 
3'ou, whilst I am kissing her for resembling 3'ou. 
But there would be no end to these details. Fold 
us both to your heart ; for I am truly and affec- 

Yours, Mary. 

The Same to tfie Same. 

Paris, Dec. 30, 1794. 
Should you receive three or four of the letters 
at once, which I have written latelv, do not think 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay. 123 

of Sir John Brute, for I do not mean to wife you. 
I onh' take advantage of every occasion, that one 
out of three of my epistles may reach 3'our hands, 

and inform you that I am not of 's opinion, 

who talks till he makes me angry, of the necessity 
of 3'Our staying two or three months longer. I 
do not like this life of continual inquietude, and, 
entre nous^ I am determined to try to earn some 
money here myself, in order to convince 3 ou that, 
if you choose to run about the world to get a for- 
tune, it is for yourself; for the little girl and I 
will live without your assistance unless 3'ou are 
with us. I may be termed proud ; be it so, but 
I will never abandon certain principles of action. 

The common run of men have such an ignoble 
waj' of thinking, that, if they debauch their hearts 
and prostitute their persons, following perhaps 
a gust of inebriation, the}' suppose the wife — 
slave, rather — whom they maintain, has no right 
to complain, and ought to receive the sultan, 
whenever he deigns to return, with open arms, 
though his have been polluted by half a hundred 
promiscuous amours during his absence. 

I consider fidelity and constancy as two dis- 
tinct things, yet the former is necessar}' to give 
life to the other ; and such a degree of respect do 
I think due to mj'self, that, if onl}' probit}', which 

124 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

is a good thing in its place, brings 3'ou back, 
never return, — for if a wandering of the heart 
or even a caprice of the imagination detains 3'ou, 
there is an end of all ray hopes of happiness. I 
could not forgive it if I would. 

I have gotten into a melanchohMnood, you per- 
ceive. You know my opinion of men in general ; 
you know I think them sj'stematic tyrants, and 
that it is the rarest thing in the w^orld to meet 
with a man with sufficient delicacy of feeling to 
govern desire. When I am thus sad I lament 
that my little darling, fondh^ as I dote on her, is 
a girl. I am soriy to have a tie to a world that 
for me is ever sown with thorns. 

You will call this an ill-humoured letter, when, 
in fact, it is the strongest proof of affection I can 

give, to dread to lose you. has taken such 

pains to convince me that 3'Ou must and ought 
to sta}', that it has inconceivabh' depressed my 
spirits. You have always known my opinion. I 
have ever declared that two people who mean to 
live together ought not to be long separated. If 
certain things are more necessary to 3'ou than to 
me, search for them. Saj' but one word, and you 
shall never hear of me more. If not, for God's 
sake, let us struggle with poverty, — with an}' evil 
but these continual inquietudes of business, which 

Mary TVollstonecraft to Captain Imlay. 125 

I have been told were to last but a few months, 
thongh eveiy da}' the end appears more distant. 
This is the first letter in this strain that I have 
determined to forward to you ; the rest lie b}', 
because I was unwilling to give 3'ou pain ; and I 
should not now write if I did not think that there 
would be no conclusion to 3^our schemes, which 
demand, as I am told, 3'our presence. 

The Same to the Same. 

Paris, Feb. 9, 1795. 

The melancholy presentiment has for some time 
hung on my spirits, that we are parted forever; 

and the letters I received this day by Mr. 

convince me that it was not without foundation. 
You allude to some other letters, which I suppose 
have miscarried ; for most of those I have got were 
only a few hasty lines, calculated to wound the 
tenderness the sight of the superscription excited. 

I mean not, however, to complain ; 3'et so many 
feelings are struggling for utterance, and agitating 
a heart almost bursting with anguish, that I find 
it very difficult to write with any degree of cohe- 

You left me indisposed, though you have taken 
no notice of it ; and the most fatiguing journey I 
ever had contributed to continue it. However, 

126 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

I recovered my health ; but a neglected cold and 
continual inquietude during the last two months 
have reduced me to a state of weakness I never 
before experienced. Those w^ho did not know 
that the canker-worm was at work at the core, 
cautioned me about suckling m}' child too long. 
God preserve this poor child, and render her 
happier than her mother ! 

But I am wandering from my subject ; indeed 
m}' head turns giddy when I think that all the 
confidence I have had in the affection of others is 
come to this. I have done vay dut}' to you and 
m}' child ; and if I am not to have any return of 
affection to reward me, I have the sad consola- 
tion of knowing that I have deserved a better fate. 
M}' soul is wear}^, I am sick at heart ; and, but 
for this little darling, I would cease to care about 
a life which is now stripped of every charm. 

Yon see how stupid I am, uttering declamation 
w^hen I meant simply to tell you that I consider 
3'our requesting me to come to 3'ou as merel}^ 
dictated by honour. Indeed, I scarceh' understand 
you. You request me to come, and then tell me 
that you have not given up all thoughts of return- 
ing to this place. 

AVhen I determined to live with 3'ou, I was only 
governed by affection. I Avould share poverty 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay, 127 

with joii, but I turn with affright from the sea of 
trouble on which 3'ou are entering. I have cer- 
tain principles of action ; I know what I look 
for to found m}' happiness on. It is not money. 
With 3'ou I wished for sufficient to procure the 
comforts of life ; as it is, less will do. I can still 
exert m3'self to obtain the necessaries of life for 
my child, and she does not want more at present. 
I have two or three plans in m}^ head to earn our 
subsistence ; for do not suppose that, neglected 
b}^ you, I will lie under obhgations of a pecuniary 
kind to 3'ou. No ; I w^ould sooner submit to 
menial service. I wanted the support of 30ur 
affection ; that gone, all is over. I did not think, 

when I complained of 's contemptible avidity 

to accumulate money, that he would have dragged 
3'ou into his schemes. 

I cannot write. I enclose a fragment of a let- 
ter written soon after 3'our departure, and another 
which tenderness made me keep back when it was 
written. You will see there the sentiments of a 
calmer, though not a more determined moment. 
Do not insult me by saying that '' our being to- 
gether is paramount to ever3^ other considera- 
tion." Were it, you would not be running after 
a bubble, at the expense of m3' peace of mind. 

Perhaps this is the last letter you will ever 
receive from me. 

128 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

The Same to the Same. 

In the course of their correspondence Mary WoUstone- 
craft went to Sweden, whence she wrote a collection of 
letters, wliich are published, among her other works, under 
the title of Letters from Norwai/, Sweden, and Denmark. 

Sweden, July 3, 1795. 

There was a gloominess diffused through 3'our 
last letter, the impression of which still rests on 
m}' mind ; though, recollecting how quickly you 
throw off the forcible feelings of tlie moment, I 
flatter myself it has long since given place to your 
usual cheerfulness. 

Believe me (and my eyes fill with tears of ten- 
derness as I assure you), there is nothing I would 
not endure in the waj' of privation rather than dis- 
turb 3^our tranquillity. If I am fated to be un- 
happ}^, I will labour to hide my sorrows in m}^ 
own bosom, and 3^ou shall always find me a faith- 
ful, affectionate friend. 

I grow more and more attached to m}' little 
girl, and I cherish this affection without fear, be- 
cause it must be a long time before it can become 
bitterness of soul. She is an interesting crea- 
ture. On shipboard, how often, as I gazed at 
the sea, have I longed to bury my troubled bosom 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay. 129 

in its less troubled deep, — asserting, with Bru- 
tus, "that the virtue I had followed too far was 
merely an emptj' name ; " and nothing but the 
sight of her — her pla^'ful smiles, which seemed 
to cling and twine round my heart — could have 
stopped me. 

What peculiar miser}' has fallen to my share ! 
To act up to n\y principles, I have laid the strict- 
est restraint on mj \ev\ thoughts. Yes ; not to 
sull}' the delicac}^ of m}' feelings, I have reined in 
my imagination, and started with affright from 
ever}" sensation that, stealing with balmy sweet- 
ness into my soul, led me to scent from afar the 
fragrance of reviving nature. 

My friend, I have paid dearly for one comic- 
tion. Love, in some minds, is an affair of senti- 
ment, arising from the same delicacy of perception 
(or taste) as renders them alive to the beauties 
of nature, poetry, &c., — alive to the charms of 
those evanescent graces that are, as it were, 
impalpable ; they must be- felt, they cannot be 

Love is a want of the heart. I have examined 
myself lately with more care than formerly, and 
find that to deaden is not to calm the mind. 
Aiming at tranquillity, I have almost destroyed 
all the enei-gy of my soul, — almost rooted out 


130 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

what renders it estimable. Yes, I have damped 
that enthusiasm of character which converts the 
grossest materials into a fuel that imperceptibl}' 
feeds hopes which aspire above common enjo}- 
ment. Despair, since the birth of my child, has 
rendered me stupid ; soul and bod}^ seem fading 
away before the withering touch of disappoint- 

I am now endeavouring to recover mj'self ; and 
such is the elasticity of my constitution and the 
purity of the atmosphere here, that health un- 
sought for begins to reanimate my countenance* 
I have the sincerest esteem and affection for 3'ou ; 
but the desire of regaining peace (do 3'ou under- 
stand me?) has made me forget the respect due to 
my own emotions, — sacred emotions that are the 
sure harbingers of the delights I was formed to 
enjoy, and shall enjoy ; for nothing can extinguish 
the heavenly spark. 

Still, when we meet again I will not torment 
.you, I promise you. I blush when I recollect 
m}^ former conduct, and will not in future con- 
found m^'self with the beings whom I feel to 
be my inferiors. I will listen to delicacy or 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay. 131 

The Same to the Same. 

Sweden, July 4, 1795. 

I HOPE to hear from 3'ou b}' to-morrow's mail. 
My dearest friend ! I cannot tear my affections 
from you ; and though every remembrance stings 
me to my very soul, I think of you till I make 
allowance for the verj' defects of character that 
have given such a cruel stab to my peace. 

Still, however, I am more alive than 3'ou have 
seen me for a long, long time. I have a degree 
of vivacity, even in m^^ grief, which is preferable 
to the benumbing stupor that, for the last 3'ear, 
has frozen up all my faculties. Perhaps this 
change is more owing to returning health than to 
the vigour of my reason ; for, in spite of sadness 
(and surel}' I have had m}' share) , the purity of 
this air, and the being continualh' out in it, — for 
I sleep in the country every night, — has made an 
alteration in my appearance that reall}' surprises 
me. The rosy fingers of health already streak 
my cheeks, and I have seen a physical life in m}' 
eyes, after I have been climbing the rocks, that 
resembled the fond, credulous hopes of 3'outh. 

With what a cruel sigh have I recollected that 
I had forgotten to hope ! Reason, or rather 
experience, does not thus cruelly damp poor 

132 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

Fann3''s pleasures ; she plays all day in the gar- 
den with 's children, and makes friends for 


Do not tell me that yon are happier without 
us. Will you not come to us in Switzerland ? 
Ah, why do not 3'ou love us with more sentiment ? 
Why are you a creature of such sympathy that 
the warmth of your feelings, or rather the quick- 
ness of your senses, hardens 3^our heart? It is 
my misfortune that m}^ imagination is perpetually 
shading 3'our defects and lending 3'ou charms, 
whilst the grossness of your senses makes 3'ou 
(call me not vain) overlook graces in me that onl3^ 
dignit3' of mind and the sensibilit3' of an expanded 
heart can give. God bless you ! Adieu. 

The Same to the Same. 

ToNSBERG, July 30, 1795. 
I HAVE just received two of 3'our letters, dated 
the 26th and 30th of June, and 3'Ou must have 
received several from me, informing 3'ou of m3^ 
detention and how much I was hurt b3' 3'our 

Write to me then, my friend, and write explic- 
itl3\ I have suffered, God knows, since I left 3'ou. 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay. 133 

Ah, you have never felt this kind of sickness of 
heart ! M}' mind, however, is at present painfully 
active, and the sympath}' I feel almost rises to 
agony. But this is not a subject of complaint ; it 
has afforded me pleasure, — and reflected pleasure 
is all I have to hope for, if a spark of hope be yet 
alive in my forlorn bosom. 

I will try to write with a degree of composure. 
I wish for us to live together because I want \ov\ 
to acquire an habitual tenderness for my poor girl, 
I cannot bear to think of leaving her alone in the 
world, or that she should onh' be protected hy 
3'our sense of duty. Next to preserving her, my 
most earnest wish is not to disturb your peace. I 
have nothing to expect, and little to fear, in life. 
There are wounds that can never be healed ; but 
the}' ma}' be allowed to fester in silence without 

When we meet again you shall be convinced 
that I have more resolution than you give me 
credit for. I will not torment you. If I am des- 
tined always to be disappointed and unhappy, I 
will conceal the anguish I cannot dissipate ; and 
the tightened cord of life or reason will at last 
snap, and set me free. 

Yes ; I shall be happy. This heart is worthy 
of the bliss its feelings anticipate ; and I cannot 

134 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

even persuade myself, wretched as thej^ have 
made me, that my principles and sentiments are 
not founded in nature and truth. But to have 
done with these subjects. 

I have been seriousl}' employed in this way 
since I came to Tonsberg ; 3'et I never was so 
much in the air. I walk, I ride on horseback, 
row, bathe, and even sleep in the fields ; my health 
is consequently improved. The child, Marguerite 
informs me, is well. I long to be with her. 

Write to me immediatel}'. Were I only to think 
of myself, I could wish you to return to me poor, 
with the simplicity of character, part of which 3'ou 
seem latelj- to have lost, that first attached me to 

Yours most aflTectionately, 

Mary Imlay. 

The Same to the Same. 

Copenhagen, Sept. 6, 1795. 
Gracious God ! it is impossible for me to stifle 
something like resentment when I receive fresh 
proofs of 3'our indifi'erence. What I have suffered 
this last 3'ear is not to be forgotten ! I have not 
that happy substitute for wisdom, insensibility; 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlay, 135 

and the lively S3'mpathies which bind me to my 
fellow-creatures are all of a painful kind. They 
are the agonies of a broken heart ; pleasure and I 
have shaken hands. 

I see here nothing but heaps of rum, and only 
converse with people immersed in trade and sen- 

I am weary of travelling, 3'et seem to have no 
home — no resting-place to look to. I am strangely 
cast off. How often, passing through the rocks, 
1 have thought, ''But for this child I would lay 
my head on one of them and never open m}^ eyes 
again ! " With a heart feelingly alive to all the 
affections of my nature, I have never met with 
one softer than the stone that I would fain take 
for my last pillow. I once thought I had ; but it 
was all a delusion. I meet with families continu- 
ally, who are bound together by affection or prin- 
ciple ; and when I am conscious that I have ful- 
filled the duties of ni}' station, almost to a forget- 
fulness of mj'self, I am ready to demand, in a 
murmuring tone, of Heaven, ''Why am I thus 

136 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

The Same to tlie Same. 

This letter is written on the night when, driven to mad- 
ness by Imlay's conduct, Mary Wollstonecraft went out 
and made the desperate attempt to drown herself in the 
Thames. The one following this is written soon after her 


LoxDOx, November, 1795. 

I WRITE 3'ou now on my knees, imploring you 

to send my child and the maid with , to Paris, 

to be consigned to the care of Madame , Eiie 

, Section de . Should they be removed, 

can give their direction. 

Let the maid have my clothes Avithout distinc- 

Pra}^ pay the cook her wages, and do not men- 
tion the confession Tvliich I forced from her ; a 
little sooner or later is of no consequence. Noth- 
ing but m}^ extreme stupidit}" could have rendered 
me blind so long. Yet, whilst you assured me 
that you had no attachment, I thought we might 
still live together. 

I shall make no comments on your conduct, or 
any appeal to the world. Let my wrongs sleep 
with me ! Soon, very soon, I shall be at peace. 
When you receive this my burniug head will be 

I would encounter a thousand deaths rather 

Mary Wollstonecraft to Captain Imlaij, 137 

than a night like the last. Your treatment has 
thrown m}' mind into a state of chaos ; 3'et I am 
serene. I go to find comfort, and my onl}' fear is, 
that m}^ poor body will be insulted by an endeavour 
to recall mj' hated existence. But I shall plunge 
into the Thames where there is the least chance 
of m}' being snatched from the death I seek. 

God bless 3'ou ! Ma}' you never know by ex- 
perience what 3'ou have made me endure. Should 
3'our sensibility ever awake, remorse will find its 
way to 3'our heart ; and, in the midst of business 
and sensual pleasure, I shall appear before 3'ou, 
the victim of your deviation from rectitude. 

The Same to the Same. 

liOXDOx, November, 1795, 
Sunday Morning. 

I HATE onl3' to lament that, when the bitterness 
of death was past, I was inbumanl3' brought back 
to life and miser3'. But a fixed determination is 
not to be baflied b3' disappointment ; nor will I 
allow that to be a frantic attempt which was one 
of the calmest acts of reason. In this respect 
I am onl3' accountable to m3'self. Did I care for 
what is termed reputation, it is b3' other circum- 
stances that I should be dishonoured. 

138 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

You say, '' that you know not how to extricate 
ourselves out of the wretchedness into which we 
have been plunged." You are extricated long 
since. But I forbear to comment. If I am con- 
demned to live longer, it is a living death. 

It appears to me that 3'ou lay much more stress 
on delicac}^ than on principle ; for I am unable to 
discover what sentiment of delicac}" would have 
been violated b}' 3^our visiting a wretched friend, 
if indeed yon have any friendship for me. But 
since 3'our new attachment is the onl}^ sacred thing 
in your eyes, I am silent — . Be bappj^ ! My com- 
plaints shall never more damp your enjoj^ment ; 
perhaps I am mistaken in supposing that even my 
death could for more than a moment. This is 
what 3^ou call magnanimity. It is happy for your- 
self that you possess this quality in the highest 

Your continually asserting that 3'ou will do all 
in your power to contribute to mj' comfort, when 
3'ou onl}^ allude to pecuniar}^ assistance, appears 
to me a flagrant breach of delicac}^ I want not 
such vulgar comfort, nor will I accept it. I never 
wanted but 3'our heart. That gone, 3^ou have 
nothing more to give. Had I onlj^ poverty to 
fear, I should not shrink from life. Forgive me 
then, if I say that I shall consider any direct or 

Shelley to Mary Shelley. 139 

indirect attempt to supply my necessities as an 
insult which I have not merited, and as rather 
done out of tenderness for 3 our own reputation 
than for me. Do not mistake me ; I do not think 
that you value mone}', therefore I will not accept 
what you do not care for, though I do much less, 
because certain privations are not painful to me. 
When I am dead, respect for 3'ourself will make 
you take care of the child. 

I write with difficulty — probably I shall never 
write to 3'ou again. Adieu. God bless 3'ou ! 

Shelley to Mary Shelley. 

There is very little that is characteristic of the poet 
Shelley to be found in any of his letters which liave yet 
been printed. In a collection of his prose writings edited 
by his wife, she gives a few letters written to her after 
they went to reside in Italy. They are printed somewhat 
fragmentarily, and I have copied them in fragments, leav- 
ing out portions which relate to business or uninteresting 
matters. Shelley does not pour out his heart in liis let- 
ters, like Keats, nor write to publisher or friends on every 
trivial occasion, like Byron ; and one feels in his letters a 
reticence of nature which did not unloose itself except in 
his poetry. 

Florence, Thursday, at 11 o'clock, 
20 August, 1818. 

Dearest Mary, — We have been delayed in 
this city four hours for the Austrian minister's 

140 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

passports, but are now on the point of setting out 
with a vetturino, who engaged to take us on the 
third day to Padua ; that is, we shall only sleep 
three nights on the road. . . . We have now a 
comfortable carriage and three mules, and have 
made very decent bargains to Padua. I should 
tell 3'ou we had delightful fruit for breakfast, — 
figs ver}' fine, and peaches unfortunately gathered 
before the}' were ripe, — whose smell was like what 
one fancies of the wakening of Paradise flowers. 

Well, ni}' dearest Marj', are 3'ou verj' louely? 
Tell me the truth, my sweetest, do you ever cry? 
I shall hear from you in Venice, and once on my 
return here. If you love me 3'ou will keep up 
your spirits ; and, at all events, tell me the truth 
about them, for I assure 3'ou I am not of a dispo- 
sition to be flattered by your sorrow, though I 
should be by 3'our cheerfulness, and above all hy 
seeing such fruits of my absence as were pro- 
duced when we were at Geneva.^ 

What acquaintances have you made? I might 
have travelled to Padua with a German, who had 
just come from Rome, and has scarce recovered 
from a malarial fever caught in the Pontine 
marshes a week or two since, but I conceded to 
's entreaties and your absent suggestions and 

^ There Mrs. Shelley wrote her famous novel, "Frank- 

Shelley to Mary Shelley. 141 

omitted the opportunit}', though I have no great 
faith in that species of contagion. It is not very 
hot, not at all too much so for m}^ sensations, and 
the onl}^ thing that inconveniences me is the gnats 
at night, who roar like so many humming-tops in 
one's ear. 

How is Willmouse and little Clara ? They 
must be kissed for me ; and 3'ou must particu- 
larly remember to speak my name to William, 
and see that he does not quite forget me, before 
my return. Adieu, my dearest girl ; I think we 
shall soon meet. I shall write again from Venice. 
Adieu, dear Mary. 

The Same to tlie Same. 

Later from Venice he writes her to join him. 

I AM going to the bankers to send you money 
for 3'our journe}'. Pray come instantly to Este, 
where I shall be waiting with the utmost anxiet}' 
for your arrival. You can pack up directly you 
get this letter, and employ the next day on that. 
Then take a vetturino to Florence, to arrive the 
same evening. From Florence to Este is three 
days' vetturino journey, and 3'ou could not, I think, 
make it in less b}' post. I do not think 3'ou can, 
but try to get from Florence to Bologna in one 

142 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

day. Do not take the post, for it is not much 
faster, and yeiy expensive. I have been obliged 
to decide on all these things without 3'ou. I have 
done for the best ; and, my own beloved Mary, 
3'ou must soon come and scold me if I have done 
wrong, and kiss me if I have done right ; for I 
am sure I do not know which, and only the 
event can show. We shall at least be saved the 
trouble of introduction. I have formed the ac- 
quaintance of a lady who is so good, so beautiful, 
so angelically mild, that were she wdse like 3'ou, 

she would be quite a . Her ej'es are like a 

reflection of }'ours. Her mayners are like yours 
when you know and like a person. 

Dearest love, be well, be happ}', come to me ; 
confide in 3'our own constant and affectionate 

P. B. S. 

Kiss the blue-eyed darhngs for me, and do not 

let William forget me. Clara cannot recollect 


— ^-— 

The Same to the Same. 
This little note, written a year before his death, when 
Mary sent him her picture, is among Shelley's latest letters 
to his wife. 

Ravenna, Aug. 15, 1821. 

My dearest Love, — I accept your present of 
your picture, and wish you would get it prettily 

Byron to the Countess Guicciola. 143 

framed for me. I will wear for 3-0 iir sake upon 
my heart this image which is ever present to m}' 

I have only two minutes to write ; the post is 
just setting off. I shall leave this place Thursday 
or Frida}'. You would forgive m}^ longer staj' if 
3'ou knew the light I have had to make it so short. 
I need not say where my own feeling impels me. 

It still remains fixed that Lord Byron should 
come to Tuscan}', — if possible, Pisa. 

Your faithful and affectionate S. 

Byron to the Countess Guicciola. 

It was in the autumn of 1818 that Lord Byron met 
with Teresa Guicciola. She was a little more than 
eighteen years old, — a golden-haired Italian woman, such 
as Titian loved to paint, — and had recently been taken 
from the convent in which she was reared, to be married 
to Count Guicciola, a wealthy widower of sixty. Moore 
says, in his Life of Dijron : *' The love that sprung up 
between Byron and Madame Guicciola was instantaneous 
and mutual, though with the usual disproportion of sacri- 
fice between the two. . . . The fount of natural tenderness 
in his soul, which neither the world's efforts nor his own 
had been able to chill or choke up, was, with something of 
its first freshness, set flowing once more. He knew what it 
was to love and to be loved, — too late, it is true, for hap- 
piness and too wrongly for peace, but with devotion enough 

144 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

on the part of the woman to satisfy even his thirst for 
affection, and on his own part with a sad earnestness, a 
foreboding fidelity, which made liim cling the more pas- 
sionately to this attachment from feeling it would be his 

In one of the Countess Guicciola's absences from home, 
he was fond of sitting alone in her garden ; and, finding 
there one day a copy of Corinne, which she had been read- 
ing, he wrote, in English, this letter on one of the fly-leaves 
of the book. 

BoLOGXA, Aug. 25, 1819. 
My dearest Teresa, — I have read this book 
in 3'our garden. My love, 3'ou were absent, or 
else I could not have read it. It is a favourite 
book of yours, and the writer was a friend of 
mine. You will not understand these English 
words, and others will not understand them, 
which is the reason I have not scrawled them in 
Italian ; but you will recognize the handwriting 
of him who passionateh' loved 3'ou, and yon will 
divine that over a book which was yours he could 
only think of love. In that word, beautiful in all 
languages, but most so in 3'ours, — Amor mio^ — 
is comprised my existence here and hereafter. I 
feel I exist here, and I fear that I shall exist 
hereafter — to what purpose you will decide ; my 
destiny rests with you, and you xire a woman, 
eighteen years of age, and two out of a convent. 

CharlotU Carpenter to Walter Scott. 145 

I wish that yon had sta3'ed there, with all m}^ 
heart, — or, at least, that I had never met 3'on in 
3'our married state. 

But all this is too late. I love you and yon 
love me, — at least, 3'ou sa}' so and act as if yon 
did so, which last is a great consolation in all 
events. But I more than love you, and cannot 
cease to love you. 

Think of me sometimes when the Alps and the 
ocean di\^de us ; but thej^ never will, unless you 
wish it. 


Charlotte Carpenter to Walter Scott, 

Walter Scott had had a disappointment in a love affair 
in which his feelings seem to have been deeply engaged, 
when his heart was caught in the rebound by Miss Char- 
lotte Carpenter, a lively brunette, of French birth and 
parentage, the ward of an English marquis, Lord Down- 
shire, wlio, in the spring of 1797, was travelling in Scot- 
land. Scott and Miss Carpenter were engaged in the fall 
of this year, and these letters are written by Miss Carpen- 
ter to her betrothed just before marriage. There was 
only a little delay after the engagement, to get Lord Down- 
shire's consent, and to settle the minds of Scott's family 
on the subject of the lady's fortune and birth. 

Mrs. Scott, without any great surplus of romance or 
sentiment, as would appear from her letters, was a lively 
and cheerful-tempered wife. She never seems to have had 

146 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

any very deep appreciation of her husband's genius, and 
when his fame as tlie great novelist was widening, she is 
said to liave regarded his genius largely as a means for 
refurnishing the drawdng-room or adding a new wing to the 
house. She was, however, a faithful and capable help- 
meet, even if she lacked those finer sympathies which are 
so rare, even in the happiest lives. The following notes 
were written just before the marriage, and have a good 
deal of girlish vivacity, which w^as, no doubt, very capti- 
vating to the young Scottish lawyer. 

Carlisle, Oct. 25, 1797. 
Indeed, Mr. Scott, I am by no means pleased 
with all this writing. I have told you bow much 
I dislike it, and 3'et 3'ou still persist in asking me 
to write, and that by return of post. Oh, you 
realh' are quite out of 3'our senses ! I should not 
have indulged 3'ou in that whim of yours, had 3'ou 
not given me the hint that my silence gives an 
air of m vster3'. I have no reason that can detain 
me from acquainting you that m3^ father and 
mother were French, of the name of Charpentier. 
He had a place under government ; their residence 
was at L3'ons, where 3'ou w^ould find on inquiries 
that they lived in good repute, and in very good 
style. I had the misfortune of losing m3' father 
before I could know the value of such a parent. 
At his death we were left to the care of Lord 
Downshire, who was his very great friend, and 

Charlotte Carventer to Walter Scott, 147 

very soon I had the affliction of losing my mother. 
Oar taking the name of Carpenter was on my 
brother's going to India, to prevent any little diffi- 
culties that might have occurred. I hope now 
you are pleased. Lord D. could have given 
everj' information, as he has been acquainted with 
all m}^ famil}'. You say 3'ou almost love him^ 
but until your almost becomes to a quite^ I cannot 
love you. Before I conclude this famous epistle, 
I will give you a little hint, — that is, not to put 
so many r}iusts in 3'our letters. It is beginning 
rather too soon ; and another thing is that I take 
the libert}^ not to mind them much, but I expect 
j'ou to mind me. You must take care of 3'ourself. 
You must think of me, and believe me 

Yours sincerel}" 

C. C. 

The Same to tlie Same. 

Carlisle, Nov. 14, 1797. 
Your letter never could have come in a more 
favourable moment. Anything you could have 
said would have been well received. You surprise 
me much at the regret you express you had before 
leaving CarUsle. Indeed, I can't believe it was 
on my account. I was so uncommonly stupid I 

148 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

don't know what could be the matter with me ; I 
was so very low, and felt really ill. It was even 
a trouble to speak. The settling of our little 
plans, all looked so much in earnest, that I began 
reflecting more seriously than I generally do, or 
approve of I don't think that ver}' thoughtful 
people can ever be happy. As this is m}' maxim, 
adieu to all thoughts. I have made a determina- 
tion to be pleased with ever} thing and with every- 
body in Edinburgh, — a wise system for happiness, 
is it not? I enclose the lock. I have had almost 
all my hair cut off. Miss Nicholson has taken 
some, which she has sent to London to be made 
into something, but this you are not to know of, 
as she intends it as a present for 3'ou. I am happj^ 
to hear of your father's being better pleased as 
to monej' matters ; it will come at last, don't let 
that trifle disturb you. Adieu, Monsieur. J'ai 
I'honneur d'etre votre tres humble et tres 


C. C. 

The Same to ilie Same. 

Carlisle, Xov. 27, 1797. 
You have made me verj' triste all day. Pra}', 
never more complain of being poor. Are 3'ou not 
ten times richer than I ? Depend upon yourself 

Charlotte Carpenter to Walter Scott, 149 

and your iDrofession. I have no doubt 3'ou will 
rise verj' high, and be a great rich man^ but we 
should look down to be contented with our lot 
and banish all disagreeable thoughts. We shall 
do ver}' well. I am sorry to hear you have 
such a bad head ; I hope I shall nurse awa}' all 
your aches. I think you write too much ; when 
I am mistress I shall not allow it. How very 
angry I should be with you if you were to part 
with Leonore!'^ Do you really believe I should 
think it an unnecessary expense where your health 
and pleasure could be concerned ? I have a bet- 
ter opinion of 3'ou, and I am very glad 3'ou don't 
give up the cavahy, as I love anything that is 
stylish . 

Don't forget to find a stand for the old carriage, 
as I shall like to keep it in case we go on anj' jour- 
ney ; it is so much more convenient than the post- 
chaises, and will do very well till we can keep 
our carriage. What an idea of yours that was to 
mention where you wish to have 3'our hones laid ! 
If you were married I should think you were tired 
of me. A ver}' pretty compliment before marriage / 
I hope sincerely I shall not live to see that da}'. 
If 3'ou always have such cheerful thoughts, how 

1 Scott's horse, named for Burger's ballad, which he had 
just translated. 

150 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

veiT pleasant and gay j'ou must be ! Adieu, ni}^ 
dearest friend ; take care of 3'ourself if you love 
me, as I have no wish that 3'ou should visit that 
heaiitiful and romantic scene, the burj^ing-place. 
Adieu, once more, and believe that you are loved 
verv sincerely by 

C. C. 

The Same to tlie Same. 

Carlisle, Dec. 10, 1797. 
If I could but reall}' believe that ni}' letter onl}^ 
gave you half the pleasure 3'ou express, I almost 
think, my dearest Scott, that I should get ver}' 
fond of writing, just to indulge you, — that is 
saying a great deal. I hope you are sensible of 
the compliment I pa}' you, and don't expect I 
shall alwaj's be so pretty behaved. You may de- 
pend on me, my dearest friend, for fixing as early 
a da}' as I possibl}' can, and if it happens not to 
be so soon as you could wish, you must not be 
angry with me. It is very unluck}' joxx are such 
a bad housekeeper, as I am no better. I shall 
try. I hope very soon to have the pleasure of 
seeing you, and of telUng 3'ou how much I love 
you ; but I wish the first fortnight was over. With 
all my love, and all sorts of pretty things, adieu. 


Leigh Hunt to his Betrothed. 151 

P. S. Etudiez votre Fran9ais. Remember you 

are to teach me Italian in return, but I shall be a 

stupid scholar, 

— I — 

The Same to the Same, 

Carlisle, Dec. 14, 1797. 
(A week before marriage.) 

... I HEARD last night from my friends in Lon- 
don, and I shall certainl}' have the deed this week. 
I will send it to you directly ; but not to lose so 
much time as you have been reckoning, I will 
postpone any little delay that might happen by 
the post by fixing next Wednesday for your com- 
ing here, and on Thursday, the 21st, O mj' dear 
Scott, — on that day I shall be yours forever. 

C. C. 

P. S. Arrange so that we shall see none of 
your family the night of our arrival. I shall be so 
tired and such a fright, I shall not be seen to 

Leigh Hunt to hif Betrothed, 

This letter was written by Lbigh Huxt to his betrothed 
three or four years before their marriage, wlieii he was just 
beginning to be known in literary and journalistic circles. 
He was not more than twenty-two when he was engaged to 
be married, and his Marienne sit this date could not have 


152 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

been more than sixteen, so that the faults of handwrithior 
and blotting about which he lectures her, may be pardoned 
in one who was still a school-girl. 

Gainsborough, Thursday, 
February, 1806. 

Dearest Girl, — My journey to Doncaster is 
deferred till next week, so I sit down to write joxx 
a day earlier than I intended, in order that you 
may have two letters instead of one this week to 
make up for former deficiencies. A ver^' heav}' 
rain last night has made the snow yanish from the 
fields, which look delightfully green this morn- 
ing. I walked out to enjo}' the lively air and the 
universal sunshine, and seated myself with a book 
on the gateway at the bottom of a little eminence 
covered with evergreens, a little wa}^ from Gains- 
borough. It seemed the return of spring ; a flock 
of sheep were grazing before me, and cast up 
every now and then their inquiring visages as 
much as to sa}', ''What singular being is that so 
intent upon the m3'sterious thin substance he is 
turning over with his hand ? " The crows at in- 
tervals came wheeling with long cawiugs above 
my head ; the herds lowed from the surrounding 
farms ; the windmills whirled to the breeze, fling- 
ing their huge and rapid shadows on the fields ; 
and the river Trent sparkled in the sun from east 

Leigh Hunt to his Betrothed, 153 

to west. A delightful serenity diffused itself 
through my heart. I worshipped the magnificence 
and the love of the God of nature, and I thought 
of you. These two sensations always arise in my 
heart in the quiet of a rural landscape, and I have 
often considered it a proof of the purity and the 
reality of my affection for you, that it alwaj^s feels 
most powerful in my religious moments. And this 
is very natural. Are 3'ou not the greatest blessing 
Heaven has bestowed upon me? Your image at- 
tends m}' rural rambles not only in the healthful 
walks when, escaped from the clamour of streets 
and the glare of theatres, I am ready to exclaim 
with Cowper, '' God made the country, and man 
made the town." It is present with me even in 
the bustle of life ; it gives me a distaste to a friv- 
olous and riotous societj^ ; it excites me to im- 
prove mj'self in order to deserve 3^our affection, 
and it quenches the little flashes of caprice and 
impatience which disturb the repose of existence. 
If I feel my anger rising at trifles it checks me in- 
stantaneousl}- ; it seems to say to me, " Why do 
you disturb yourself ? Marienne loves you ; 3'ou 
deserve her love, and ought to be above these 
little marks of a little mind." Such is the power 
of love. I am naturall}' a man of violent passions, 
but 3'our affection has taught me to subdue them. 

154 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

Whenever you feel any little inquietudes or impa- 
tiences arising in 3^our bosom, think of the hap- 
piness you bestow upon me, and real love will 
produce the same effect on xon that it produces 
on me. No reasoning person ougld to marry ^ who 
cannot say^ " My love has made me better^ and more 
desirous of improvement than I was before^ 

... I do not write, I acknowledge, with the 
best hand in the world, but I endeavour to avoid 
blots or interpolations. I suppose 3'ou guess b3' 
this preamble that I am going to find fault with 
your letters. I would not dare, however, to find 
fault were I not sure that 3'ou would receive m}^ 
letters cheerfully. You have no false shame to in- 
duce you to conceal or deny 3'our faults, — quite the 
contrar}' ; you think sometimes too much of them, 
for I know of none which 3'ou cannot remed}'. 
Besides, mj' faithful and attentive aflS'ection would 
induce me to ask with confidence an}' little sacri- 
fice of 3'our time and care ; and as 3'ou have done 
so much for me in correcting the errors of m3' head 
you will not feel very unpleasant when I venture 
to correct the errors of your hand. Now, cannot 
3'ou sit down on Sunda3', my sweet girl, and write 
me a fair, even-minded, honest hand, unvexed with 
desperate blots or skulking interlineations? Mind, 
I do not quarrel with the contents or with the sub- 

Keats's Letters to Fanny Brawne, 155 

ject ; what you tell me of others amuses me, and 
what 3'ou tell me of 3'ourself delights me. It is 
mereh^ the fashion of 3'^our Imes ; in short, as 
St. Paul saith, ''It is the spirit giveth life, but 
the letter killeth." 

Present m}^ respects to Mrs. Hunter and tell 
her I have found the tune, the Scotch tune, which 
pleased her so much between the acts in Douglas ; 
it belongs to a song called Tweedside, beginning, 
''What beauties does Flora disclose." I will 
pla}^ it to her when I return. I shall write Mrs. 
Hunter next week. ... It is astonishing I should 
ever be melancholj^ when I possess friends hke 
these ; and when, above all, I am able to tell my 
dearest Marienne how infinitely she is beloved by 


Keats^s Letters to Fanny Brawne. 

Among the saddest of sad letters are those of John 
Keats to Fanny Brawne. These letters, written under the 
shadow that impended over the last two years of his life, 
are touched by the double sadness of love and of death. 

He met Eanny Brawne in the fall of 1818, and a little 
later he wrote to a friend : " I never was in love, and yet 
the shape of a woman has haunted me these two days. . . . 
This morning poetry has conquered. I have relapsed into 
those abstractions that are my only life. I feel escaped 

156 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

from a new, strange, threatening sorrow, and I am thankful 
for it. There is an awful warmth about my heart like a 
load of immortality." It is difficult to infer, from what we 
can find out about Fanny Brawne, whether she was even 
in beauty the creature that the poet fancied, or whether his 
ideal was not created bodily out of his own poet's imagin- 
ings. That she was shallow-hearted, with sympathies and 
brain as shallow as her heart, a person with any of the in- 
tuitions of sentiment cannot fail to infer from everything 
that is to be learned of her. What can be said of a wo- 
man who, ten years after Keats's death, could write of him 
to a friend that " the kindest act would be to let him rest 
forever in the obscurity to which circumstances have con- 
demned him'"? — a woman who had neither love enough 
nor sense enough to guess at the greatness that had stooped 
so to idealize her ; who could speak thus flippantly of a 
poet whom Matthew Arnold and other critics name to-day 
in the same breath with Shakespeare, for the debt which 
is owed liim by English poetry. 

Keats could not escape the shape that haunted him, 
whether he would or no. In February, 1819, they were 
engaged, and for a year he either lived near her so as to 
see her almost daily, or he w^rote her every day such letters 
as these that follow, — letters in which his passion for her 
is blended with his passionate sense of beauty and his 
passionate longing for death. "I have two luxuries to 
brood over," he writes her, — " your loveUness and the hour 
of my death." 

In the winter of 1820 death came near enough for the 
poet to feel his presence. One night after a slight cough- 
ing-fit, feeling his mouth fill with blood, he said, '* Bring 
me the candle," then looked at the blood calmly with an 

Keats' s Letters to Fanny Braicne. 157 

eye that had been trained by his medical studies to know 
the symptoms of disease. 

** I know the colour of that blood," he said ; " it is arterial 
I cannot be deceived in that colour ; that drop is my death- 
warrant, — I must die." Yet at that moment, above all 
things, he thought other. " When I felt it possible I might 
not survive, at that moment I thought of nothing but you. 
When I said, ' This is unfortunate,' I thought of you." In 
his lonely and wakeful nights later in his illness, thoughts 
of her haunted him, mingled with other thoughts, — that he 
had done no immortal work such as he had hoped to do, 
that he had not made a name to be remembered ; only, he 
adds consolingly to liimself , " I have truly loved the spirit 
of beauty in all things." 

In the autumn of 1820 it was decided he should go to 
Italy, and his faithful friend Severn went with him and 
remained with him till he died. The letters to Fanny 
Brawne end with the two which are quoted last in this 
series, — the two he wrote before he went to Italy after 
their parting ; but his letters to his friends are filled with 
that anguish and longing of the heart that tears him when- 
ever he thinks of her. " I can bear to die ; I cannot bear to 
leave her," he cries. *' The very thing I want to live for 
will be a great occasion of my death. ... I wish for 
death every day and night to deliver me from these pains, 
and then I wish death away, for death would destroy these 
pains, which are better than nothing." Again, " Oh that I 
could be buried near where she lives ! I am afraid to write to 
her, to receive a letter from her; to see her handicriting ivould 
break my heart. Even to hear of her, to see her name written, 
would he more than I can bear. Where can I look for conso- 
lation or ease? If I had any chance of recovery, this 

158 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

passion would kill me." Kot very long after these words, 
were written, the tortured, restless heart was still, and in a 
few months the daisies, wliose tender roots he had felt 
piercing his grave before lie lay asleep there, were cover- 
ing him over with their quietness and peace. 

Keats to Fanny Brawne, 

Newport, 10th July, 1819. 
My sweet Girl, — Your letter gave me more 
delight than anything in the world but 3'ourself 
could do; indeed, I am almost astonished that 
any absent one should have that luxurious power 
over my senses which I feel. Even when I am 
not thinking of 3'ou I receive 3'our influence and 
a tenderer nature stealing upon me. All my 
thoughts, mj' unhappiest days and nights, have, 
I find, not at all cured me of my love of Beaut}', 
but made it so intense that I am miserable that 
3'ou are not with me ; or, rather, breathe in that 
dull sort of patience that cannot be called Life. 
I never knew before what such a love as 3'ou have 
made me feel was. I did not believe in it ; my 
fancy was afraid of it, lest it should burn me up. 
But if you will fully love me, though there maj^ be 
some fire, 'twill not be more than we can bear, 
when moistened and bedewed with Pleasures. 
You mention " horrid people/' and ask me 
whether it depend upon them w^hether I see you 

Keats' s Letters to Fanny Braione. 159 

again. Do understand me, my love, in this. I 
have so much of you in m}' heart that I must turn 
Mentor Avhen I see a chance of harm befaUing 
j'ou. I would never see anything but Pleasure in 
your ej'es, love on 3'our lips, and Happiness in 
your steps. I would wish to see you among 
those amusements suitable to your inclinations 
and spirits ; so that our loves might be a delight 
in the midst of Pleasures agreeable enough, rather 
than a resource from vexations and cares. But I 
doubt much, in case of the worst, whether I shall 
be philosopher enough to follow my own Lessons ; 
if I saw my resolution give 3'ou pain, I could not. 
Why may I not speak of your Beauty, since with- 
out that I could never have loved 3'ou ? I can- 
not conceive any beginning of such love as I have 
for you but Beauty. There may be a sort of love 
for which, without the least sneer at it, I have 
the highest respect, and can admire it in others ; 
but it has not the richness, the bloom, the full 
form, the enchantment, of love after my own 
heart. So let me speak of your Beauty, though 
to my own endangering, if 3'ou could be so cruel 
as to try elsewhere its Power. You saj' you are 
afraid I shall think 3'ou do not love me ; in saying 
this 3'ou make me ache the more to be near 3'ou. 
I am at the diligent use of my faculties here, — 

160 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

I do not pass a day without sprawling some blank 
verse or tagging some rhymes ; and here I must 
confess that (since I am on that subject) I love 
you the more in that I believe that you have liked 
me for m}^ own sake and for nothing else. I have 
met with women who I really think would like to 
be married to a Poem and to be given away by a 

I have seen 3'our Comet, and onlj' wish it was a 
sign that poor Rice would get well, whose illness 
makes him rather a melancholy companion ; and 
the more so as so to conquer his feelings and hide 
them from me with a forced Pun. I kissed 3'our 
writing over in the hope 3'ou had indulged me by 
leaving a trace of hone3^ What was your dream ? 
Tell it me and I will tell you the interpretation 

Ever yours, my love, 

John Keats. 

The Same to the Same. 

25 College Street, 13 Oct., 1819. 

My dearest Girl, — This moment I have set 

myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot 

proceed with any degree of content. I must write 

you a line or two, and see if that will assist in 

Keats' s Letters to Fanny Br atone. 161 

dismissing you from m}' Mind for ever so short a 
time. Upon my Soul, I can think of nothing else. 
The time is past when I had power to advise and 
warn 3'OU against the unpromising morning of my 
Life. My love has made me selfish. I cannot 
exist without you. I am forgetful of everything 
but seeing you again ; my Life seems to stop 
there ; I see no further. You have absorbed me. 
I have a sensation at the present moment as though 
I was dissolving. I should be exquisitely misera- 
ble without the hope of soon seeing you. I should 
be afraid to separate myself far from 3'ou. My 
sweet Fanny, will 3'our heart never change ? My 
love, will it? I have no limit now to m}' love. 
. . . Your note came in just here. I cannot be 
happier away from 5^ou. 'Tis richer than an 
argosy of pearls. Do not threat me, even in jest. 
I have been astonished that men could die Mar- 
tjYS for religion, — I have shuddered at it. I 
shudder no more ; I could be martyred for mj- 
Religion, — love is my religion, — I could die for 
that. I could die for you. My Creed is Love, 
and you are its only tenet. You have ravished 
me away bj' a Power I cannot resist ; and 3'et I 
could resist till I saw 3'ou ; and even since I have 
seen 3^ou I have endeavoured often " to reason 
against the reasons of my Love.'* I can do that 

162 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters, 

no more, — the pain would be too great. My love 
is selfish. I cannot breathe without you. 
Yours forever, 

John Keats. 

The Same to the Same. 

Februaey, 1820 (?). 
My dearest Girl, — If illness makes such an 
agreeable variety in the manner of your eyes, I 
should wish you sometimes to be ill. I wish I had 
read 3'our note before you went last night, that 
I might have assured you how far I was from sus- 
pecting any coldness. You had a just right to be 
a little silent to one who speaks so plainly to 3'ou. 
You must believe — 3'ou shall, you will — that I 
can do nothing, say nothing, think nothing of you 
but what has its spring in the Love which has so 
long been my pleasure and torment. On the night 
I was taken ill — when so violent a rush of blood 
came to my Lungs that I felt nearly suffocated — 
I assure you I felt it possible I might not survive, 
and at that moment thought of nothing but 3'ou. 
When I said to Brown, "This is unfortunate," I 
thought of you. 'T is true that since the first two 
or three days other subjects have entered my head. 
I shall be looking forward to Health and the 
Spring and a regular routine of our old Walks. 

Your affectionate J. K. 

Keats s Letters to Fanny Braione. 163 

The Same to the Same. 


My dear Fanny, — Do not let your mother 
suppose that you hurt me by writuig at night. 
For some reason or other 3'our last night's note 
was not so treasurable as former ones. I would 
fain that you call me Love still. To see you happy 
and in high spirits is a great consolation to me ; 
still let rae believe that you are not half so happy 
as m}" restoration would make you. I am nervous, 
I own, and may think m3'self worse than I really 
am ; if so, 3^ou must indulge me, and pamper with 
that sort of tenderness you have manifested to- 
wards me in different Letters. M}' sweet creature, 
when I look back upon the pains and torments I 
have suffered for 3^0 u from the da3^ I left you to 
go to the Isle of Wight, the ecstasies in which I 
have passed some da3's and the miseries in their 
turn, I wonder the more at the Beaut3^ which has 
kept up the spell so fervently. When I send this 
round I shall be in the front parlour watching to 
see 3'ou show 3'ourself for a minute in the garden. 
How illness stands as a barrier betwixt me and 
3'ou ! Even if I was well — I must make myself 
as good a Philosopher as possible. Now I have 
had opportunities of passing nights anxious and 

164 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

awake, I have found other thoughts intrude upon 
me. " If I should die," said I to myself, '' I have 
left no immortal work behind me, — nothing to 
make mj friends proud of m}' memory-, — but I 
have loved the principle of beauty in all things, 
and if I had had time I would have made m^^self 
remembered." Thoughts like these came A^ery 
feebly whilst I was in health, and every pulse beat 
for you ; now \'ou divide with this (maj^ /sa}^ it?) 
" last infirmity of noble minds" all my reflection. 
God bless you, love ! 

J. Keats. 

The Same to the Same. 


Sweetest Fanny, — You fear sometimes I do 
not love 3'ou so much as you wish ? My dear girl, 
I love you ever and ever and without reserve. 
The more I have known the more have I loved. 
In every wa}^, — even my jealousies have been 
agonies of Love ; in the hottest fit I ever had I 
would have died for you. I have vexed you too 
much. But for Love! Can I help it? You are 
always new. The last of your kisses was ever the 
sweetest, the last smile the brightest, the last 
movement the gracefulest. When you passed my 
window, home yesterday, I was filled with as much 

Keats s Letters to Fanny Bravjne. 165 

admiration as if I had seen you for the first time. 
You uttered a half complaint once that I only 
loved your beaut}'. Have I notliing else, then, 
to love in you but that? Do not I see a heart 
naturally furnished with wings imprison itself with 
me? No ill prospect has been able to turn 3'our 
thoughts a moment from me. This perhaps should 
be as much a subject of sorrow as jo}', — but I will 
not talk of that. Even if you did not love me 
I could not help an entire devotion to 3'ou ; how 
much more deepl}', then, must I feel for you, know- 
ing 3'ou love me. My Mind has been the most 
discontented and restless one that ever was put 
into a body too small for it. I never felt my Mind 
repose upon anything with complete and undis- 
tracted enjo^'ment — upon no person but you. 
When you are in the room my thoughts never fly 
out of window ; you always concentrate my whole 
senses. The anxiety shown about our Loves in 
your last note is an immense pleasure to me ; how- 
ever you must not suffer such speculations to mo- 
lest 3'ou any more ; nor will I any more believe 
you can have the least pique against me. Brown 
is gone out, but here is Mrs. Wylie ; when she is 
gone I shall be awake for 3'ou. Remembrances to 

your Mother. 

Your aflfectionate 

J. Keats. 

166 iijetters of Poets and Men of Letters. 


The Same to the Same. 

My deakest Fanny, — I slept well last night, 
and am no worse this morning for it. Da}" by day, 
if I am not deceived, I get a more unrestrained use 
of my Chest. The nearer a racer gets to the Goal 
the more his anxiety becomes ; so 1, lingering 
upon the borders of health, feel my impatience 
increase. Perhaps on your account I have imag- 
ined my illness more serious than it is : how horrid 
was the chance of slipping into the ground instead 
of into 3'our arms — the difference is amazing, 
Love. Death must come at last ; Man must die 
as Shallow says ; but before that is my fate I fain 
would try what more pleasures than 3'ou have 
given, so sweet a creature as 3'ou can give. Let 
me have another opportunity of j^ears before me 
and I will not die without being remembered. 
Take care of yourself, dear, that we maj' both be 
well in the Summer. I do not at all fatigue my- 
self with writing, having merely put a line or two 
here and there, — a Task which would wony a 
stout state of the body and mind, but which just 
suits me, as I can do no more. 

Your affectionate 

J. K. 

Keats s Letters to Fanny Brawne. 167 

The Same to ilie Same. 

September (?), 1820. 
My dearest Fanky, — M}' head is puzzled this 
morning, and I scarce know what I shall sa}', 
though I am full of a hundred things. 'Tis cer- 
tain I would rather be writing to 3^ou this morning, 
notwithstanding the alloy of grief in such an 
occupation, than enjoy any other pleasure, with 
health to boot, unconnected with you. Upon my 
soul I have loved 3'ou to the extreme. I wish 
3'ou could know tiie tenderness with which I con- 
tinuall}' brood over your different aspects of 
countenance, action, and dress. I see you come 
down in the morning ; I see you meet me at the 
window, — I see everything over again eternallj^ 
that I ever have seen. If I get on the pleasant 
clue, I live in a sort of happ}^ misery ; if on the 
unpleasant, 't is misery. You complain of m}^ ill- 
treating 3'ou in word, thought, and deed. I am 
sorry ; at times I feel bitterly sorry that I ever 
made yoxx unhappy. My excuse is that those 
words have been wrung from me by the sharpness 
of my feelings. At all events and in an}- case 
I have been wrong ; could I believe that I did it 
without an}^ cause, I should be the most sincere 
of Penitents. I could give way to m}' repentant 
feelings now, I could recant all my suspicions, I 

168 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

could mingle with 3^011 heart and Soul, though 
absent, were it not for some parts of j^our Letters. 
Do you suppose it possible I could ever leave 
you? You know what I think of myself and what 
of 3'ou. You know that I should feel how much it 
was my loss and how little j^ours. My friends 
laugh at you ? I know some of them ; when I 
know them all, I shall never think of them again 
as friends or even acquaintances. M}^ friends 
have behaved well to me in ever^^ instance but 
one, and there they have become tattlers and 
inquisitors into m}^ conduct ; spying upon a secret 
I would rather die than share it with anybody's 
confidence. For this I cannot wish them well, 
I care not to see any of them again. If I am the 
theme, I will not be the Friend of idle Gossips. 
Good gods, what a shame it is our Loves should 
be so put into the microscope of a Coterie ! Their 
laughs should not affect 3'ou (I may perhaps 
give you reasons some day for these laughs, for I 
suspect a few people to hate me well enough, for 
reasons I know of who have pretended a great 
friendship for me) when in competition with one 
who if he should never see 3'ou again would make 
you the saint of his memorj'. These Laughers, 
who do not like you, who env}^ you for 3'our 
beaut}', who would have God-blessed me from 3'ou 
forever ; who were plying me with disencourage- 

Keats s Letters to Fanny Brawne, 169 

ments with respect to you eternall}'. People are 
revengeful ; do not mind them ; do nothing but 
love me. If I knew that for certain, life and health 
will in such event be a heaven, and death itself 
will be less painful. I long to believe in immor- 
tality. I shall never be able to bid you an entire 
farewell. If I am destined to be happy with 3'ou 
here, how short is the longest Life ! I wish to 
believe in immortalit}', I wish to live with you for- 
ever. Do not let my name ever pass between 3'ou 
and these laughers ; if I have no other merit than 
the great Love for you, that were sufficient to 
keep me sacred and un mentioned in such society. 
If I have been cruel and unjust, I swear m}' love 
has ever been greater than my cruelt}^ which lasts 
but a minute, whereas my Love, come wliat will, 
shall last forever. If concession to me has hurt 
3'our Pride, God knows I have had little pride in 
my heart when thinking of you. Your name 
never passes m}' lips ; do not let mine pass 
yours. Those People do not like me. After 
reading m}" Letter 3'ou even then wish to see me. 
I am strong enough to walk over, but I dare 
not. I shall feel so much pain in parting with 
you again. M}^ dearest love, I am afraid to see 
you ; I am strong, but not strong enough to see 
you. Will my arm be ever round you again, and 
if so shall I be obliged to leave you again ? My 

170 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

sweet Love ! I am happ}- whilst I believe 3'our 
first Letter. Let me be but certain that 3'ou are 
mine heart and soul, and I could die more hap- 
pily than I could otherwise live. If you think 
me cruel, if you think I have slighted you, do 
muse it over again and see into m\ heart. My 
love to you is '' true as truth's simplicity and 
simpler than the infancj" of truth," as I think I 
once said before. How could I slight youl How 
threaten to leave you ? not in the spirit of a Threat 
to you, — • no ; but in the spirit of Wretchedness 
in myself. M}^ fairest, my delicious, my angel 
Fanny ! do not believe me such a vulgar fellow. 
I will be as patient in illness and as believing in 
love as I am able. 

Yours forever, my dearest, 

John Keats, 

The Last Letter of Keats written before his Departure. 

September (?), 1820. 
I do not write this till the last, that no eye maj^ 
catch it.^ 

My dearest Girl, — I wish you could invent 
some means to make me happy without you. 
Every hour I am more and more concentrated in 
you ; everything else tastes like chaff in ni}' 

^ He had added the words "My dearest Girl," after 
writing the letter. 

Keats s Letters to Fanny Braivne. 171 

mouth. I feel it almost impossible to go to Italy ; 
the fact is I cannot leave 3^ou, and shall never 
taste one minute's content until it pleases chance 
to let me live with you for good. But I will not 
go on at this rate. A person in health as you are 
can have no conception of the horrors that nerves 
and a temper like mine go through. What Island 
do 3'our friends propose retiring to? I should be 
happy to go there with 3'ou alone, but in company 
I should object to it ; the backbitings and jealous- 
ies of new colonists who have nothing else to 
amuse themselves, is unbearable. Mr. Dilke came 
to see me jesterday, and gave me a great deal 
more pain than pleasure. I shall never be able 
any more to endure the society of any of those 
who used to meet at Elm Cottage and Wentworth 
Place. The last two years taste like brass upon 
my Palate. If I cannot live with you I w ill live 
alone. I do not think my health will improve 
much while I am separated from you. For all 
this I am averse to seeing you, — I cannot bear 
flashes of light and return into mj' gloom again. 
I am not so unhappy now as I should be if I had 
seen you yesterda3\ To be happ3' with you seems 
such an impossibility ! it requires a luckier star 
than mine ; it will never be. I enclose a passage 
from one of your letters which I want 3'ou to alter 
a little. I want (if 3'ou will have it so) the matter 

172 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

expressed less coldl}^ to me. If my health would 
bear it, I could write a poem which I have in my 
head, which would be a consolation for people in 
such a situation as mine. I w^ould show some one 
in Love as I am, with a person living in such Lib- 
ert}' as you do. Shakespeare always sums up mat- 
ters in the most sovereign manner. Hamlet's heart 
was full of such miser}^ as mine is when he said 
to Ophelia, " Go to a nunnerj', go, go !" Indeed 
I should like to give up the matter at once, — I 
should like to die. I am sickened at the brute 
world which you are smiling with. I hate men, 
and women more. I see nothing but thorns for 
the future ; wherever I may be next winter, in 
Ital}' or nowhere. Brown will be living near you 
with his indecencies. I see no prospect of any 
rest. Suppose me in Rome — well, I should there 
see 3'ou as in a magic glass going to and from 
town at all hours. I wish 3'ou could infuse a little 
confidence of human nature into my heart. I can- 
not muster any ; the world is too brutal for me. 
I am glad there is such a thing as the grave ; I aih 
sure I shall never have an}' rest till I get there. 
At any rate I will indulge myself by never seeing 
anymore Dilke or Brown, or any of their Friends. 
I wish I was either in your arms full of faith or 
that a Thunderbolt would strike me. 

God bless you ! J. K. 

William Hazlitt to Sarah L. 173 

William Hazlitt to Sarah L, 

William Hazlitt, the poet-essayist, and one of tlie 
finest critics of his time, was a man of keen sensibility, 
with the poetic tendency to idealize some of the common- 
est things of earth into visions of beauty and objects of 
rapturous adoration. In one of these moods he met with 
a young woman, the daughter of his lodging-house keeper, 
for whom he entertained an affection as mad as it was 
hopeless. He would have married her if she would have 
consented to become his wife, but she seems not to have 
been sensible of the honour he would have done her, and to 
have merely played with his feelings as the amusement of 
her unoccupied mornings, in which she would sometimes 
remain beside him while he ate the breakfast which she 
served him with her fair hands. Hazlitt paints her as a 
vision of rarest beauty, somewhat undeveloped and soul- 
less, but into whom, like Pygmalion, his devotion would 
infuse life and soul. The truth seems to be, that his statue 
was a vulgar young woman, accustomed to flirt with the 
lodgers who came under her mother's roof, and that she 
could no more understand the feeling with which she was 
regarded by a man of genius than she could have returned 
it if it had been comprehensible to her. The following, 
like some of Keats's letters, opens so deep the heart of the 
writer that it would seem too personal to print it, if Hazlitt 
had not himself published an account of this unhappy epi- 
sode in his life, and included in it the few letters which he 
wrote to Sarah L. 

March, 1822. 

You will be glad to learn that I have done my 
work, — a A^olume in less than a month. That is 

174 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

one reason why I am better than when I came ; 
and another is, I have had two letters from Sarah. 
I walk out of an afternoon and hear the birds 
sing, as I told 3 ou, and think if I had 3 ou hanging 
on m}' arm, and that for life, how happ^' I should 
be, happier than I ever lioped to be, or had any 
conception of till I knew 3'ou. ''But that can 
never be," I hear 3'ou answer in a soft, low mur- 
mur. Well, let me dream of it sometimes. I 
am not happ3' too often, except when that favour- 
ite note, the harbinger of spring, recalling the 
hopes of m3" 3'outh, whispers thy name and peace 
together in my ear. I was reading something 
about Mr. Macread3^ to-da3', and this puts me in 
mind of that delicious night when I went with 
3'our mother and 3'ou to see " Romeo and Juliet." 
Can I forget it for a moment ? — 3'our sweet, mod- 
est looks, 3'our infinite propriety of behaviour, all 
3'our sweet, winning wavs, 3'our hesitating about 
taking my ann, as we came out, till 3'our mother 
did, 3'our laughing about nearly losing your cloak, 
3'Our stepping into the coach, and oh, m3' sitting 
down beside 3'ou there, — yow, whom I had loved 
so long, so well, — and 3'our assuring me I had 
not lessened 3'our pleasure at the plav b3' being 
with 3'ou, and giving me 3"0ur dear hand to press 
in mine I 

William Hazlitt to Sarah L, 175 

I thought I was in heaven ! That slender form 
contained my all of heaven upon earth ; and as I 
folded you — 3'es, you, m}' own Sarah — to my 
bosom, there was, as 3 ou say, a tie between us. 
You did seem to me, for those few short moments, 
to be mine in all truth, honour, and sacredness. 
Oh that we could be always so ! Do not mock 
me, for I am a very child in love. I ought to beg 
pardon for behaving so ill afterwards, but I hope 
the little image made it all up between us. 

This letter is endorsed : — 

''To this letter I received no answer, not a 
line. The rolling 3'ears of eternitj' will never fill 
up that blank." 

That Hazhtt suffered greatly from this melancholy 
passion is not to be doubted. He writes to one of his 
friends whom he makes his confidant : " The sky is marble 
to my thoughts ; nature is dead around me, as hope is 
within me. No object can give me one gleam of satisfac- 
tion now, nor the prospect of it in time to come. I wander 
by the seaside, and tlie eternal ocean, and lasting despair, 
and her face are ever before me. Slighted by her on 
whom my heart by its last fibre hung, where shall I turn ? 
I wake with her by my side, not as my sweet bedfellow, 
but as the corpse of my love, without a heart in her bo- 
som, cold, insensible, or struggling away from me ; and 
the worm gnaws me, anfl the sting of unrequited love, and 
the canker of a hopeless, endless sorrow. I have lost the 

176 Letters of Poets and Men of Letters. 

taste of food by my feverish anxiety ;~ and my favourite 
beverage, which used to refresh me when I rose, has no 
moisture in it. Oh, cold, solitary, sepulchral breakfasts, 
compared to those which I had promised myself with her ; 
or which I made when she had been standing an hour by 
my side, my guardian angel, my wife, my sweet friend, my 
Eve, my all ! and had blessed me with her seraph kisses." 



What were life without affection ? Without Love, I can 
fancy no gentleman. — Thackeray. 




Letters of Henry VIII. to Anne Boleyn, 

Among all the collections of old love-letters there is 
none which has elicited more interest and curiosity than 
that of Henry VIII. to his second queen, Anne Boleyn. 
These letters are supposed to have been stolen from her 
during her brief queenship, and were found, years after, 
in the library of the Vatican in Rome. Most of them 
were written in French, althougli one or two are in 
English. They are as ardent as anything in the history of 
courtship, and show the king as passionate in following 
his inclinations as he was earnest in annulling any ties he 
had formed, after his ardour had cooled. 

These letters were written while Anne was retired from 
court, under her father's protection, in the same year in 
which the king's marriage with her was celebrated. 


My Mistress and Friend, — My heart and I 

suiTender ourselves into your hands, beseeching 

you to hold us commended to your favour, and 

that by absence your affection to us ma}" not be 

180 Letters of Royal Personages. 

lessened ; for it would be a great pitj^ to increase 
our pain, of which absence produces enough and 
more than I could ever have thought could be 
felt ; reminding us of a point of astronomy, which 
is this, — the longer the daj^s are the more distant 
is the sun, and nevertheless the hotter ; so it is 
with our love, for by absence we are kept at a 
distance from one another, and yet it retains its 
fervour at least on my side. I hope the like on 
3' ours, assuring 3'ou that on my part the pain of 
absence is ah^eady too great for me ; and when I 
think of the increase of that which I am forced to 
suffer, it would be almost intolerable, but for the 
firm hope I have of your unchangeable affection 
for me. And to remind you of this sometimes, and 
seeing that I cannot be personall}^ present with 
you, I now send 3'ou the nearest thing I can to 
that, nam el}', my picture set in bracelets with the 
whole of the device, which 3'ou abeady know, wish- 
ing I were in their place when it should please you. 
This is from the hand of your loyal servant and 

_^ H., E. 

The Same to the Same. 


The approach of the time for which I have so 
long waited rejoices me so much, that it seems 

Henry VI I L to Anne Boleyn. 181 

almost to have come already. However, the en- 
tire accomplishment cannot be till the two persons 
meet, which meeting is more desired by me than 
anything in this world ; for w^hat jo}^ can be 
greater npon earth than to have the company of 
her who is dearest to me, knowing likewise that 
she does the same on her part, the thought of 
which gives me the greatest pleasure. 

Judge what an effect the presence of that per- 
son must have on me, whose absence has grieved 
my heart more than either words or writing can 
express and which nothing <?an cure, but that 
begging you, my mistress, to tell your father from 
me, that I desire him to hasten the day appointed 
by two days, that he may be at court before the 
old term, or at farthest on the da}" prefixed, for 
otherwise I shall think he will not do the lover's 
turn, as he said he would, nor answer my expec- 

No more at present for lack of time, hoping 
shortly that by word of mouth I shall tell you the 
rest of the sufferings endured b}^ me from 3'our 

Written by the hand of the secretary, who 
wishes himself at this moment privately with 3'ou, 
and who is, and always will be, 

Your loyal and most assured servant, 

H. no other (A. B.) seeks, R. 

182 Letters of Royal Personages, 

Anne Boleyn to Henry VI I L 

I have not been able to find any English copy from the 
original of the following letter. It is translated from a 
Life of Queen Elizabeth, in Italian, by Gregorio Leti, who 
claims that it is from authentic sources. Miss Strickland, 
in her Life of Anne Boleyn, and some other historians, have 
doubted its genuineness. Miss Strickland refuses to accept 
it on the ground that it is " too fulsome " a letter for Anne 
Boleyn's lofty pride of character to dictate. But this is 
not good ground for disproving such a letter in the age 
of Henry VIII. or Queen Elizabeth, when such fulsome 
flattery of the sovereign was so common even from noble 
minds. This letter sounds rather like the natural adulation 
of a young and ambitious girl who had been flattered by 
the boldly expressed admiration of a great king. Leti 
dates it in 1519, but this would certainly be much too early, 
as she did not return from France, where she had passed 
part of her girlhood, till long after that time. 

It is supposed that King Henry met her at her father^s 
house not long after her return, and that it was through 
his influence she was made maid of honour to Queen Kath- 

No date. 

Sir, — It belongs only to the august mind of a 
great king, to whom Nature has given a heart full 
of generosity towards the sex, to repay by favours 
so extraordinar}', an artless and short conversation 
with a girl. Inexhaustible as is the treasury of 
your majesty's bounties, I pray 3^ou to consider 

Anne Bdeyn to Henry VIII. 183 

that it cannot be sufficient to 3'our generosity ; for 
if, 3'ou recompense so slight a conversation by 
gifts so great, what will you be able to do for 
those who are ready to consecrate their entire 
obedience to 3'our desires? How great soever 
may be the bounties I have received, the J03' I feel 
jn being loved b}' a king whom I adore, and to 
whom I would with pleasure make a sacrifice of 
my heart, if fortune had rendered it worthy of 
being offered to him, will ever be infinitely 

The warrant of maid of honour to the Queen 
induces me to think that your majestj' has some 
regard for me. Since it gives me the means of 
seeing 3'ou oftener, and of assuring you b}^ my 
own lips (which I shall do on the first oppor- 
tunity) that I am. 

Your majesty's ver}' obliged and very obedient 
servant, without any reserve, 

Anne Boleyn. 

Anne Boleyn'' s Last Letter to Henry VII T. 

As a proper accompaniment to King Henry's love-letters, 
we put the last letter of Anne Bok'yn to her royal hus- 
band, who had now ceased to be her lover, written from 
lier prison in the Tower jnst before her execution. It is 

184 Letters of Eoyal Personages, 

the letter of a woman without hope, who knows well the 
man to whom she writes, and is not afraid to speak clearly 
and bravely. There has been some slight doubt expressed 
as to the authenticity of this letter as well as of the forego- 
ing; but it seems plain to me no one but Anne could have 
written it, and her allusion to Jane Seymour as "that 
party, for whose sake I am now as I am, whose name I 
could some while since have pointed unto ; your Grace 
being not ignorant of my suspicions therein,^' is in true 
womanly spirit, and shows that there had been accusations 
on her part before the king began those counter-accusa- 
tions which led to the unhappy queen's death. 

The Towee, May 6, 1536. 

Sm, — Your Grace's displeasure and my im- 
prisonment are things so strange unto me, as 
what to write or what to excuse, I am altogether 
ignorant, w^hereas you send unto me (willing me 
to confess a truth, and so obtain your favour) by 
such an one whom yon know to be mine ancient 
professed enem}-. I no sooner received this mes- 
sage by him than I right!}' conceived your mean- 
ing ; and if, as 3'ou say, confessing a truth ma\' 
procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and 
dut}^ perform your command. 

But let not your Grace ever imagine that your 
poor wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a 
fault where not so much as a thought thereof pre- 
ceded. And, to speak truth, nevey prince had wife 

A7ine Boleyn to Henry VIII, 185 

more loj'al in all dut}^ and in all true affection 
than you have ever found in Anne Boleyn, with 
which name and place I could willingly have con- 
tented myself, if God and your Grace's pleasure 
had been so pleased. Neither did I, at anj' time, 
so far forget mjself in my exaltation, or received 
queenship, but that I always looked for such an 
alteration as I now find ; for the ground of my 
preferment being on no surer foundation than 
3'our Grace's fancy, the least alteration, I knew, 
was sufficient to draw that fanc}' to some other 
subject. You have chosen me from a low estate 
to be 3'our Queen and companion, far above m\^ 
desert and desire. If then you found me worthy 
of such honour, good 3'our Grace, let not any light 
fanc}^ or bad counsel of mine enemies, withdraw 
your princel}' favour from me ; neither let that 
stain, that un worth}' stain of a disloyal heart 
towards your good Grace, ever cast so foul a blot 
on 3'our most dutiful wife, and the infant princess, 
your daughter. Try me, good King, but let me 
have a lawful trial, and let not ni}' sworn enemies 
sit as my accusers and judges ; 3'ea, let me receive 
an open trial, for my truth shall fear no open 
shame ; then shall you see, either mine innocency 
cleared, your suspicion and conscience satisfied, 
the ignomin}' and slander of the w^orld stopped, 

186 Letters of Royal Personages. 

or my guilt openly declared. So that whatsoever 
God or you may determine of me, your Grace 
may be freed from an open censure, and mine 
offence being so lawfull}^ proved, 3'our Grace is at 
libert}', both before God and man, not onl}' to 
execute worthy punishment on me as an unlawful 
wife, but to follow 3'our affections already settled 
on that part}', for whose sake I am now as I am, 
whose name I could some while since have pointed 
unto ; 3'our Grace being not ignorant of my sus- 
picions therein. 

But if you have already determined of me, and 
that not only my death, but an infamous slander, 
must bring 3'ou to the enjoying of 3'our desired 
happiness, then I desire of God that he will par- 
don your great sin therein, and likewise mine 
enemies, the instruments thereof, and that he will 
not call you to a strict account for 3'our unprincely 
and cruel usage of me, at his general judgment 
seat, where both 3'ou and m3'self must shorth' ap- 
pear, and in whose judgment I doubt not (what- 
soever the world may think of me) mine innocence 
shall be openh^ known and sufficientl3' cleared. 
M3' last and onl3' request shall be that myself 
ma3' onh' bear the burden of 3'our Grace's dis- 
pleasure, and that it shall not touch the innocent 
souls of those poor gentlemen, who (as I under- 

Henry VIII. to Jane Seymour. 187 

stancl) fire likewise in strait imprisonment for nn}' 
sake. If ever I have found favour in your sight, 
if ever the name of Anne Bolejn has been pleas- 
ant in your ears, then let me obtain this request ; 
and I will so leave to trouble your Grace any fur- 
ther, with mine earnest pra3'ers to the Trinity to 
have 3'our Grace in his good keeping, and to direct 
you in all your actions. From my doleful prison 
in the Tower, this sixth of Ma}'. 

Your most lo3'al and ever faithful wife, 

Anne Boleyn. 

Henry VI IT. to Jane Seymour. 

The following is the only other love letter from Henry 
^^II. to any of his royal favourites, which is extant. 
This was written to Jane Seymour, Anre's successor to 
the dangerous position of queen, wiiile Anne was in the 
Tower awaiting her death. 

Jane Seymour died at the birth of her son the year fol- 
lowing her marriage. The value of Henry's protestations 
of affection to any woman may be judged by this brief 
extract from old John Hey wood's account of her death : — 

" News w<is sent to the Icing that her life was in great peril, 
vay, the issue icas driven to so great an exigeance that either 
mother or child must necessarili/ perish; desiring the Icing to 
decide in so great an emergency. His answer was the mother 
should then die, for certain he icas he could have more icives, but 
uncertain whether to have more children.'' On this the mother 

188 Letters of Roy a I Personages. 

was at once sacrificed to preserve the life of her son, 
Prince Edward VI. 

My dear Friend and Mistress, — The bearer 
of these few lines from thj entirelj^ devoted ser- 
vant will deliver into th}^ fair hands a token of my 
true affection for thee, hoping jou will keep it for- 
ever in 3'our sincere love for me. Advertising j'ou 
that there is a ballad made latelj' of great derision 
against ns, which if it go much abroad and is seen 
b}^ 3'ou, I pra^^ you to pay no manner of regard to 
it. I am not at present informed who is the setter 
forth of this mahgnant waiting, but if he is found 
out he shall be straitlj^ punished for it. For the 
things ye lacked, I have minded mj lord to supply 
them to 3'ou as soon as he can buy them. Thus 
hoping shortly to receive you in these arms, I end 
for the present. 

Your own loving servant and sovereign, 

H., R. 

Katlierine of Arragon to Henry VIII. 

Of all the six women whom the royal Blue-beard took to 
wife, it is probable that the only one who had any real af- 
fection for him was his first wife, Katherine of Arragon. 
This is her last letter to him, written after her divorce and 

Katherine of Arrago7i to Henry VIIL 189 

very shortly before her death. Shakespeare has given the 
substance of this letter in the last speeches of Katherine in 
Henry VIIL, Act IV. Scene 2. 


My Lord akd dear Husband, — I commend 
me unto 3'ou. The hour of my death draweth fast 
on, and, my case being such, the tender love I owe 
you forceth me, with a few words, to put you in 
remembrance of the health and safeguard of 3'our 
soul, which you ought to prefer before all worldly' 
matters, and before the care and tendering of your 
own bod}', for the which 3'ou have cast me into 
man}' miseries and 3'ourself into many cares. For 
my part I do pardon 3'ou all ; yes, I do wish 
and devout!}' pra}' God that he will also pardon 

For the rest I commend unto you Mary, our 
daughter, beseeching you to be a good father unto 
her, as I heretofore desired. I entreat you also 
on behalf of m}' maids, to give them marriage- 
portions, which is not much, the}' being but three. 
For all my other servants I solicit a year's pay 
more than their due, lest they should be unpro- 
vided for. 

Lastly, I do vow, mine eyes desire you above 

all things. 


190 Letters of Eoyal Personages. 

Katlierlne Parr to Henry VIII. 

Katherine Parr, last qneen of Henry VIIL, had been 
previously twice married before she became queen-con- 
sort. She managed the king with great tact, although 
her life must have been a hard one. She Avas little else 
than a slavish nurse to the gouty person of the king, who 
had grown so obese that he was almost helpless. Kather- 
ine showed her satisfaction at escaping from such servitude 
by marrying Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral of 
England, as soon as the king's remains w^ere comfortJibly 
deposited in the chapel choir at Windsor. This letter was 
probably written in 1544, while King Henry was absent 
upon his caix-paign in France. 

1544 (?). 

Although the distance of time and account of 
days neither is long nor nianj- of 3 our majest} 's 
absence, 3'et the want of }'our presence, so much 
desired and beloved b}' me, maketh me that I 
cannot quietly pleasure in anything until I hear 
from your majest3\ The time, therefore, seemeth 
to me Yery long, with a great desire to know how 
yonr highness hath done since 3'our departing 
hence, whose prosperity- and health I desire more 
than mine own. And whereas I know 3'our ma- 
jesty's absence is never without great need, 3'et 
love and affection compel me to desire 3-our pres- 

Again, the same zeal and affection forceth me 

Katherine Parr to Henrij VIIL 191 

to be best content with that which is your will 
and pleasure. Thus love maketh me in all things 
to set apart mine own convenience and pleasure, 
and to embrace most joyfull}' his will and pleasure 
whom I love. God, the knower of secrets, can 
judge these words not to be written onl^^with ink, 
but most truly impressed on the heart. Much 
more I omit, lest it be thought I go about to 
l^raise myself, or crave a thank ; which thing to 
do I mind nothing less but a plain, simple relation 
of the love and zeal I bear your majesty, proceed- 
ing from the abundance of the heart. Wherein I 
must confess I desire no commendation, having 
such just occasion to do the same. 

I make like account with 3 our majest}' as I do 
with God for his benefits and gifts heaped upon 
me daih', acknowledging myself a great debtor to 
him, not being able to recompense the least of his 
benefits ; in which state I am certain and sure to 
die, 3'et I hope in his gracious acceptance of my 
good will. Even such confidence have I in 3'our 
majesty's gentleness, knowing myself never to 
have done my dut}^ as were requisite and meet for 
such a noble prince, at whose hands I have found 
and received so much love and goodness that with 
Avords I cannot express it. 

Lest I should be too tedious to your majesty-, I 

192 Letters of Royal Personages. 

finish this 1113' scribbled letter, committing 3'ou to 
the governance of the Lord, with long and pros- 
perous life here, and after this life to enjoj' the 
kingdom of his elect. 

From Greenwich, by 3'our majesty's humble 
and obedient wife and servant, 

Katertn the Queen. K. P. 

Sir Christopher Hatton to Queen Elizabeth. 

The following letter to Queen Elizabeth from one of her 
court favourites is among the very few love-letters to her 
which have come down to the present. As for the queen, 
she was probably too discreet to write letters of sentiment, 
as none such have been found from her hand. 

Christopher Hatton, who wrote the following, held 
the offices of Vice-Chamberlain and Lord Chancellor dur- 
ing the reign of Elizabeth, and for a time was a prime 
favourite. The queen had a number of odd pet-names 
for him; she called him her " sheep," her " lids " (eyelids), 
sometimes "her most sweet lids." He came to court quite 
an obscure gentleman, but he rose rapidly in favour, partly, 
no doubt, because, like Leicester and Raleigh, he was of 
handsome and graceful person. Robert Naunton, one of 
Elizabeth's counsellors, says : " The queen had much of her 
father in this, for (excepting some of her kindred, and 
some few that had handsome wits in their crooked bodies) 
she always took her a handsome person in the way of her 
choice ; for the people have it to this day in proverb, * King 
Harry loved a man.' One of his rivals says Hatton 

Sir Christopher Hatton to Queen Elizabeth, 193 

danced himself into favour bj his grace in a galliard 
which he executed in some theatrical performance given 
before the queen ; and as he was a gentleman who, besides 
the graces of liis person and dancing, had the addition of 
strong and subtle capacity, he soon grew in favour and 

June, 1573. 
If I could express my feelings of 3'our gracious 
letters, I should utter unto 3'ou matter of strange 
eftect. In reading of them, with m^' teai's I blot 
them ; in thinking of them I feel so great comfort 
that I find cause, as God knoweth, to thank you 
on my knees. Death had been much more to 
my advantage than to win health and life by so 
loathsome a pilgrimage. The time of two days 
hath drawn me further from you than ten, when I 
return, can lead me towards you. Madam, I find 
the greatest lack that ever poor wretch sustained. 
No death, no, not hell, no fear of death, shall 
ever win of me my consent so far to wrong myself 
again as to be absent from you one da3\ God 
grant my return. I will perform this vow. 1 
lack that I live h\. The more I find this lack, 
the further I go from you. Shame whippeth me 
forward. Shame take them that counselled me 
to it. The life (as you well remember) is too 
long that loathsomely- lasteth. A true saying, 

194 Letters of Eoyal Personages, 

Madam ; believe him that hath proved it. The 
great wisdom I find in 3'our letters with 3^our 
conntr}^ counsels are very notable ; but the last 
word is worth the Bible. Truth, truth, truth! 
Ever ma}' it dwell with 3'ou. I will ever deserve 
it. My spirit and soul, I feel, agreeth with my 
bodj' and life, that to serve you is a heaven, but 
to lack you is more than a hell's torment unto 
them. M}' heart is full of woe. Pardon, for 
God's sake, m\' tedious writing. It doth much 
diminish (for the time) my great griefs. I will 
wash away the faults of these letters with the drops 
from 3'our poor "lids" and so enclose them. 
Would God I were with you but for one hour! 
My wits are overwrought with thoughts. I find 
m^'self amazed. Bear with me, my most sweet, 
dear lad}'. Passion overcometh me ; I can write 
no more. Love me, for I love 3'ou. God, I be- 
seech thee witness the same in the behalf of thy 
poor servant. Live forever ! Shall I utter this 
familiar term (farewell?) yea, ten thousand thou- 
sand farewells. He speaketh it that most dearly 
loveth you. I hold 3'ou too long. Once again I 
crave pardon, and so bid 3'our own poor " Lids " 

Your bondsman everlastinglj' tied, 

Ch. Hatton. 

Earl of Essex to Queen Elizabeth. 195 

The Earl of Essex to Queen EUzahetli. 

The unfortunate Earl of Essex, wlio was Queen Eliz- 
abeth's favourite in her last j-ears, was more independent 
in spirit and less fulsome in his flattery to the queen than 
any of her previous favourites. Yet this letter, which was 
written when Essex was twenty-flve and the queen sixty, 
is a very good specimen of the manner in which, during 
her life from twenty-five to seventy years of age, the queen 
was addressed by her courtiers. 

No date. 
Madam, — The delights of this place cannot 
make me unmindful of one in whose sweet corn- 
pan}' I have J03'ed as much as the happiest man 
doth in his highest contentment ; and if m}^ horse 
could run as fast as my thoughts do flj', I would 
as often make mine eyes rich in beholding the 
tieasure of my love, as m}' desires do triumph 
when I seem to myself in a strong imagination to 
conquer 3'our resisting will. Noble and dear lad}', 
though I be absent, let me in your favour be sec- 
ond unto none ; and when I am at home, if I 
have no right to dwell chief in so excellent a 
place, 3'et I will usurp upon all the world. And 
so making myself as humble to do 3'ou service, as 
in mv love I am ambitious, I wish 3'our majesty 
all 3'our happ3' desires. 

196 Letters of Royal Personages, 

Croydon, this Tuesda}', going to be mad and 

make m\' horse tame. Of all the men the most 

devoted to 3'our service. 


Mary Queen of Scots to the Earl of Bothwell. 

I quote the ensuing letter, claimed to have been written 
by Mart QcEEy of Scots to Bothwell, without any ex- 
pression of opinion as to its authenticity. There is no fact 
alleged concerning that unfortunate and extraordinary 
queen and woman which has not been denied by one side 
or the other, on which are ranged her partisans and her 
accusers. Her accusers claim that there were found before 
her trial some authentic love-letters written by her to 
Bothwell, which prove that she was a party to tli« murder 
of her husband Lord Darnley, and to her abduction by 
Bothwell. When Bothwell fled from his enemies he left 
behind him in his haste a silver-gilt casket, which had been 
given to Mary by her first husband, Francis II. of France, 
containing twenty one letters and love-sonnets written by 
Mary to Bothwell. Seven of these letters, claimed by her 
enemies to be genuine, were printed by Buchanan in his 
History of Scotland. Her partisans vehemently deny 
their genuineness, and declare them forgeries. 

Below is one of these disputed letters. It would appear 
to have been sent by the queen to Bothwell with some 
love-token, — a ring of black enamel containing an en- 
graved stone, which Mary compares to her heart. The 
famous silver-gilt casket still exists, forever voiceless as to 
the nature of its contents three hundred years ago. 

Mary Queen of Scots to Earl of Bothwell. 197 

From Mary Queen of Sects to the Earl of Bothwell^ 
concerning certain Tokens that she sent him. 

1567 (?). 
My Lord, — If the displeasure of 3'our absence, 
of your forgetfulness, the fear of clanger promised 
1)\' every one to 3'our so loved person, ma}' give me 
consolation, I leave it to you to judge, seeing the 
mishap that m}' cruel lot and continual misadven- 
ture has hitherto promised me following the mis- 
fortunes and fears as well of late, as of a long time 
b}' past, the which 3'ou do know. But for all that 
I will nowise accuse you, neither of your little re- 
membrance, neither of 3'our little care, and least 
of all of 3'our promise broken, or of the coldness 
of 3'our writing, since I am else so far made yours 
that that which pleases 3'OU is acceptable to me ; 
and m}' thoughts are so willingl}' subdued unto 
yours that I suppose that all that cometh of 3'ou 
proceeds not of an}^ the causes aforesaid, but 
rather of such as be just and reasonable, and such 
as I desire myself, which is the final order that 
3'ou promised to take for the suret3' and honour- 
able service of the onl3' supporter of m3' life. For 
which alone I will preserve the same, and without 
the which I desire nought but sudden death. And 
to testify unto you how lowh' I submit myself to 

198 Letters of Eoyal Personages. 

your commandments I have sent you of homage 
by Pareis the ornament of the head which is the 
chief guide of the other members. Inferring there- 
by that by the seizing of you in the possession of 
the spoil of which that is the principal, the rem- 
nant cannot be but subject unto 3'ou, and with 
consenting of the heart. 

In place whereof, since I have else left it unto 
3'ou, I send unto \o\x one sculpture of hard stone 
coloured with black, engraved with tears and 
bones. The stone I compare to m}' heart, that 
as it is covered in one sure sepulture or harbour 
of 3'our commandments, and, above all, of your 
name and memory, that are therein enclosed as is 
mj^ heart in this ring, never to come forth while 
death grant unto you to one trophy of victory to 
m}^ bones, as the ring is filled, in sign j^ou have 
made one full conquest of me, of my heart, and 
in that my bones are left unto 3'ou in remem- 
brance of 3'our victor}" and my acceptable love 
and willingness, for to be better bestowed than I 
merit. The annealing that is about is black, 
which signifies the steadfastness of her that sends 
the same. The tears are without number, so 
are the fears to displease 3'ou, the tears for 
3'our absence, the disdain that I cannot be in 
outward eff'ect yours, as I am without faintness 

Mary Queen of Scots to Earl of Bothicell. 199 

of heart and spirit, and of good reason, though 
m}' merits were much greater than that of the 
most profit that ever was, and such as I desire 
to be, and shall take pains in conditions to imi- 
tate, for to be bestowed worthily under your gov- 
ernance. M}' only wealth receive, therefore, in 
as good part the same, as I have received of j'our 
marriage in extreme joy, that which shall not part 
forth of mv bosom till that marriage of our 
bodies be made in public, as a sign of all that I 
either hope or desire of bliss in this world. 

Yet, my heart, fearing to displease you, as 
much in the reading hereof, as it delights me in 
the writing, I will make an end, after I have 
kissed 3'our hand with as great affection as I pray 
God (oh, the only supporter of m}' life !) to give 
3'ou long and blessed life, and to me your good 
favour, as the only good that I desire, and to the 
which I pretend. I have shown unto the bearer 
of this that which I have learned, knowing the 
credit that 3'ou give him ; as she also doth, that 
will be forever unto you an humble and obedient 
lawful wife that forever dedicates unto you her 
heart, her body, without any change unto him I 
have made the possessor of my heart, of which 
3'ou maj' hold 3'ou assured, that unto death shall 
no ways be changed, for e^il nor good shall never 
make me go from it. 

200 Letters of Royal Personages. 

James I. to the Duke of Buckingham, 

James I., who was such a strange mixture of learning 
and foolishness, of weak cruelty and doting fondness, 
has left no letters to women to be placed in the cata- 
logue of love-letters; but some of his letters to George 
Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, whom he doted on with 
an affection wliich was more than womanish, are so much 
in the style of love-letters that one of them deserves a place 
in this collection. Buckingham seems to have been a lov- 
able person, in spite of his faults. Clarendon says of him : 
" He was indeed au extraordinary person, and never any 
man in any age, nor, I believe, in any nation, rose, in so 
short a time, to so much greatness of honour, fame, and 
fortune, upon no other advantage or recommendation than 
the beauty and gracefulness of his person. I have not the 
least purpose of undervaluing his good parts, when I say 
that his first introduction into favour rose purely from the 
handsomeness of his person." 

King James wrote to this favourite as bis " sweet child,'* 
his " dear boy,'' and signed himself constantly " Your dear 
dad and gossip ; " and Buckingham replied in much the 
same spirit, signing himself often his " dear dad's humble 
dog Steenie." 

No date. 
My only sweet and dear Child, — I am now 
so miserable a coward as I do nothing but weep 
and mourn ; for I protest to God I rode this after- 
noon a great wa^- in the park without speaking to 
anybod}', and the tears trickling down my cheeks, 

James L to the Duhe of Buckinyham. 201 

as now they do, that I can scarcely see to write. 
But alas ! what shall I do at our parting? The 
only small comfort that I have will be to pr}' into 
thy defects with the ej'e of an enem}^, and of ever}' 
mote to make a mountain, and so harden my heart 
against thy absence. But this little malice is lil^e 
jealous}' proceeding from a sweet root ; but in one 
point it overcometh it, for as it proceeds from 
love, so it cannot but end in love. 

Sweet heart! be earnest with Kate^ to come 
and meet thee at New Hall within eight or ten 
da3's after this. Cast thee to be here to-morrow 
as near about two in the afternoon as thou canst, 
and come galloping hither. Remember thy pic- 
ture, and suffer none of the council to come 
here. For God's sake ! write not a word again, 
and let no creature see this letter. The Lord 
of heaven and earth bless thee, and my sweet 
daughter, and my dear little grandchild, and all 
thy blessed family, and send thee a happier turn, 
both now and thou knowest when, to thy dear 
dad and Christian gossip, 

James, R. 

1 The Duchess of Buckingham. See her letter to the 
Duke, p. 254. 

202 Letters of Royal Personages. 

Lady Arabella Stuart to her Husband. 

Among royal ladies, tlie Lady Arabella Stuart 
stands hardly second in misfortune to Lady Jane Grey, 
although her name is much less prominent in history. She 
was, like James I., descended from Margaret, the daughter 
of Henry VIL, and so had some claim to the English suc- 
cession after Elizabeth's death, which she seems never to 
have urged or to have wished urged in her favour. Yet 
it was through a pretended plot to put her on the throne 
that Raleigh was so long imprisoned in the Tower. 

She was for years a source of alarm to James L, and 
was allowed neither liberty nor the pursuit of happiness 
during her ill-fated life, simply because she had tlie mis- 
fortune to be born near a throne. At length the poor lady 
added to her other misfortunes that of falling in love. 
Many matches had been proposed for* her, but they were 
considered dangerous by some of the royal parties, and 
nipped in the bud, until William Seymour, afterwards Mar- 
quis of Hertford, boldly wooed her in person, and they were 
privately married. The marriage w^as kept hidden for a 
year, and then they were both imprisoned. Seymour was 
placed in the Tower for " marrying a member of the royal 
family without the king's leave." They managed to cor- 
respond for a time by letters, till this was discovered and 
stopped. Then the Lady Arabella fell ill, but in spite of 
illness made an attempt to escape with her husband, — an 
attempt which, just when it seemed ripe for success, was 
frustrated, and the poor lady was returned to prison. She 
sunk under these persecutions ; meditated suicide ; finally 
lost her reason, and sunk into a melancholy, in which she 
died. Seymour seems always to have cherished her mem- 

Lady Arabella Stuart to her Husband. 203 

ory ; and years after, when his fortunes had brightened, 
liis titles were granted him, and he had married a second 
time, he gave the daughter by this second marriage the 
name of Arabella Stuart, 

This letter from the Lady Arabella is very pathetic, 
from its simplicity and womanly tenderness, in which there 
is mingled no resentment against her persecutors. 

Sir, — I am exceeding sorn' to bear you have 
not been well. I pray you let me know iv\\\y bow 
you do, and wbat was tbe cause of it. I am not 
satisfied witli tbe reason Smitb gives of it ; but if 
it be a cold, I will impute it to some sympatby 
betwixt us, having myself gotten a swollen cbeek 
at the same time with a cold. For God's sake, 
let not your grief of mind work upon your hody. 
You ma}^ see hy me wbat inconveniences it will 
bring one to ; and no fortune,! assure 3'ou, daunts 
me so mucb as tbat weakness of body I find in 
myself; for si nous vivons Vage dhin veau,^ as Marot 
says, we may, by God's grace, be happier than 
we look for, in being suffered to enjoy ourself 
with his majesty's favour. But if we be not able 
to live to it, I for m}' part shall think myself a pat- 
tern of misfortune in enjoying so great a blessing 
as 3'ou so little while. No separation but that 
deprives me of the comfort of you. For where- 
soever you 5^, or in ivliat state soever you are, it svffi- 

204 Letters of Royal Personages. 

ceth me you are mme, Rachel wept and would 
not he comforted, because her children were no 
more. And that^ indeed^ is the remediless sorrow^ 
and none else ! And therefore God bless us from 
that, and I will hope well of the rest, though I see 
no apparent hope. But I am sure God's book 
mentioneth many of his children in as great dis- 
tress, that have done well after, even in this 
world. I do assure \o\\ nothing the State can do 
with me can trouble me so much as this news of 
your being ill doth ; and a^ou see when I am 
troubled I trouble you too, with tedious kindness ; 
for so I think you will account so long a letter, 
yourself not having written to me this good while 
so much as how you do. But, sweet sir, I speak 
not this to trouble you with writing but when you 
please. Be well, and I shall account myself happy 
in being 

Your faithful and loving wife, 

Arb. S. 

Charles I. to Henrietta Maria. 

The marriage of Charles I. with Henrietta Maria of 
France was doubtless an unusually happy state-marriage. 
They first saw each other at a court baU in Paris in 1623. 
when Charles, then Prince of Wales, was on his way to 
Spain, in company with the Duke of Buckingham and 

Charles I. to Henrietta Maria, 205 

Endymion Porter,^ to visit the Spanish Infanta, who was the 
proposecfwife of tlie prince. The Spanisli match was aban- 
doned, and two years later he married the French princess. 
History gives a very pretty picture of her coming to Eng- 
land : how she tried to kneel when presented to the king, 
how he prevented her by raising her in his arms, and how 
lier arch coquetries won his heart. Whatever may be said 
of him as a king, he was a loyal husband and a tender 
father ; and the domestic life of his court was in fine con- 
trast to that of James I., who preceded, and of Charles II., 
who followed him. These two letters which follow were 
written when the king was holding his court at Oxford, 
during the Civil War, and after tlie queen had left England 
to seek an asylum in her native France. 

Oxford, Feb. 13, 1643. 
Dear Heart, — I never knew till now the good 
of ignoriince ; for I did not know the danger that 
thou wert in b}' the storm ^ before I had assurance 
of th}' happy escape, we having had a pleasing 
false report of thy safe landing at Newcastle, which 
thine of the 19th of Januarj- so confirmed us in 
that we at least were not undeceived of that hope 
till we knew certainl}' how great a danger thou 
hast passed, of which I shall not be out of appre- 
hension until I may have the happiness of t\\j 

1 See letters of tlie Duchess of Buckingham and En- 
dymion Porter, on pp. 254, 258. 

2 The storm took place on the queen's return from Hol- 
land, and she was obliged to put back for shelter. 

206 Letters of Royal Personages. 

compaii}'. For, indeed, I think it not the least 
of my misfortunes that for xny sake thou hast run 
so much hazard ; in which thou hast expressed so 
much love to me that I confess it is impossible to 
repay l\y anything I can do, much less by words. 
But my heart being full of affection of thee, ad- 
miration of thee, and impatient passion of grati- 
tude to thee, I could not but say something, 
leaving the rest to be read by thee out of thine 
own noble heart. . . . 

Charles, R. 
■ ♦ 

The Same to the Same. 

Oxford, April 9, 1645. 

Dear Heart, — Though it be an uncomfortable 
thing to write hj a slow messenger, yet all occa- 
sions of the which is now the only way of convers- 
ing with thee is so welcome to me as I shall be 
^ loth to lose an}^ ; but expect neither news nor 
public business from me by tliis way of convey- 
ance. Yet, judging thee b}^ myself, even these 
nothmgs will not be nnwelcome to thee, though I 
should chide thee, which, if I could, I would do, 
for thy too sudden alarms. 

I pra}^ thee consider, since I love thee above 
all earthly things, and that mj' contentment is 
inseparably conjoined with thine, must not all my 

Charles I. to Henrietta Maria. 207 

actions tend to serve and please thee ? If thou 
knew what a life I lead, — I speak not in respect 
of common distractions, even in point of conver- 
sation, which in my mind is either the bi'ief joj^or 
vexation of one's life, — I dare say thou wouldst 
pity me ; for some are too wise, some too foolish, 
others too reserved, many too fantastic. When I 
know none better than [here follow several names 
%vritten in the cipher used by the king to the queen ^ 
which are therefore unintelligible']., thoii ma3'est 
easil}' judge how thy conversation pleased me. I 
confess thy company has perhaps made me, in 
this, hard to be pleased, but not less to be pitied 
by thee, w^ho art the only cure for this disease. 
The end of all this is to desire thee to comfort 
me as often as thou canst with thy letters ; and 
dost not thou think that to know" particulars of 
thy health, and how thou spendest thy time, are 
pleasing subjects unto me when thou hast no 
other business to write of ? 

Beheve me, sweet heart, thy kindness is as 
necessary to comfort my heart as thy assistance 
is for my affairs. 

Charles, R. 

208 Letters of Royal Personages. 

Olicer Cromwell to his Wife. 

The folloAving letters of Oliver Cromwell, written 
while he held as absolute sway over English lives and lib- 
erties as had ever been held by any of the roj-al house of 
Stuart, belong justly, I think, among the letters of royal 
persons. These letters, though brief, are characteristic, 
although perhaps they show the hard old Puritan in a light 
somewhat tenderer than that usually reflected on him by 

For my beloved wife, Elizabeth CROMWELL,at the Cockpit, 
these : 

DuxBAR, Sept. 4, 1650. 

My Dearest, — I have not leisure to write 
much ; but I could chide thee that in inan\^ of th}^ 
letters thou writest to me that I should not be 
unmindful of thee and thy little ones. Truh', if 
I love you not too well, I think I err not on the 
other hand much. Thou art dearer to me than 
any creature ; let that suffice. 

The Lord hath showed us an exceeding merc}^ ; 
who can tell how great it is ! My weak faith hath 
been upheld. I have been in my inward man 
marvellously supported, though I assure thee I 
grow an old man and feel infirmities marvellously 
stealing upon me.^ Would my corruptions did as 

1 He was then fifty -one. 

Oliver Cromwell to Ms Wife. 209 

fast decrease ! Praj" on my behalf iu the latter 
respect. The particulars of our late success 
Harry Yaiie or Gilbert Pickering will impart to 
thee. My love to all dear friends. 
I rest thine 

Olivter Cromwell. 

The Same to the Same. 

For my beloved wife, Elizabeth Cromayell, at the Cockpit, 

these : 

Edinburgh, Sd May, 1651. 

My Dearest, — I could not satisfy- myself to 
omit this post, although I have not much to write ; 
yet indeed I love to write to my dear, who is verj- 
much in m}' heart. It jo3's me to hear th}' soul 
prospereth ; the Lord increase his favours to thee 
more and more. The great good thy soul can 
wish is, that the Lord lift upon thee the light of 
his countenance, which is better than life. The 
Lord bless all thy good counsel and example to 
all those about thee, and hear all thy prayers and 
accept thee always. 

I am glad to hear thy son and daughter are 
with thee.^ I hope thou wilt have some good 

^ Richard Cromwell and wife. 

210 Letters of Royal Personages. 

opportunity of good advice to him. Present my 
duty to my mother, my love to all the family. 
Still pray for thine 

Oliver Croimwell. 

Charles 11, to Catherine of Braganza, 

This letter, written just before Catherine of Braganza 
departed for England to be wedded to Charles II., is the 
only love-letter I have found of the many which Avere 
doubtless written by this royal Lothario. This is rather 
coldly, though courteously expressed, and may have struck 
a chill to the heart of the unhappy princess, as a presage 
of the neglect and wretchedness she was to suffer as his 

London, July 2, 1661. 

My Lady and Wife, — Already, at my request, 
the good Count da Ponte has set off for Lisbon ; 
for me, the signing of the marriage has been great 
happiness, and there is about to be dispatched at 
this time after him one of mj servants, charged 
with what would appear necessary ; whereb3^ may 
be declared, on my part, the inexpressible jo}^ of 
this felicitous conclusion, which, when received, 
will hasten the coming of \o\\x majest3\ 

I am going to make a short progress into one 
of my provinces ; in the meantime, whilst I go 
from my most sovereign good, ^^et I do not com- 

Letters of Queen Mary to King William. 211 

plain as to whither I go, seeking in vain tranquil- 
lity in my restlessness ; hoping to see the beloved 
person of your majesty in these kingdoms, already 
30ur own, and that with the same anxietj' with 
which, after m}' long banishment, I desired to see 
myself within them, and my subjects, desiring also 
to behold me amongst them, having manifested 
their most ardent wishes for my return, well 
known to the world. Tlie presence of 3'our se- 
renit}' is only wanting to unite us, under the pro- 
tection of God, in the health and content I desire. 
I have recommended to the queen, our lady and 
mother, the business of the Count da Ponte, who, 
I must here avow, has served me in what I regard 
as the greatest good in this world, which cannot 
be mine less than it is that of 3'our majest}' ; like- 
wise not forgetting the good Richard Russell, who 
laboured on his part to the same end. 

The very faithful husband of your majesty, 
whose hand he kisses. 

Charles, Rex. 

Letters of Queen Mary to King William. 

The most genuinely womanly letters ever written by a 
lady of royal blood are the letters of Queen Mary II. of 
England to her husband and joint sovereign with her, Wil- 
liam III. She writes in as simple and as housewifely a 

212 Letters of Eoyal Personages. 

strain as if she were the wife of a citizen of simplest state 
in all England. It is easy to see who held the reins of 
government under the transparent pretence of their joint 
sovereignty. She writes him : " If I do anything you don't 
like, 'tis my misfortune, not my fault; for I love you more 
than my own life, and desire only to please you." 

When he is coming home from a journey she writes to 
beg, " that if possible I may come and meet you on the road, 
either where you dine, or anywhere else ; for I do so long io 
see you that I am sure, had you as much wish to see your 
poor wife again, you would propose it; but do as you please. 
I can say no more, but that I love you so much my love 
cannot increase, else I am sure it would." The following 
letters were all written to William during his campaign in 
Ireland, the first very near the date of the battle of the 

Whitehall, 4^> 1690, 
' 22 June ' 

half 11 at Night. 

The news which is come to-night of the French 
fleet being upon the coast makes it necessary to 
write to jou both waj s ; and I, that you maj- see 
how matters stand in my heart, prepare a letter 
for each. 

I think Lord Torrington has made no haste, 
and I cannot tell whether his being sick and sta}^- 
ing for Lord Pembroke's regiment, will be a suf- 
ficient excuse ; but I will not take up 3'our time 
with m}' reasonings. I shall only tell you that 
I am so little afraid that I begin to fear I have 

Letters of Queen Mary to King William, 213 

not sense enough to apprehend the danger ; for 
whether it threatens Ireland or this place, to me 
'tis much at one as to the fear; for as much a 
coward as 3'ou think me, I fear more for 3'our 
dear person than ni}^ poor carcass. I know who 
is most necessary in the world. What I fear most 
at present is not hearing from 3'ou. Love me, 
whatever happens, and be assured I am ever 
entirely yours till death. 

The Same to the Same. 

Whitehall, July ??, 1690. 

Lord Belmont torments me to write by his 
brother, which I do, though I have nothing to 
sa}" more than I wrote last night. I am alwaj's 
glad of an opportunit}" of putting you in mind of 
me, though I hope 'tis not absolutely necessary. 
All the news of the town yesterday was, that you 
were landed at Chester ; pra}^ God it were true, 
though I think there is no likelihood of it ; 3'et I 
thought it pleasing, and the more because they 
have really' said several things which have come 
to pass. I hope it may be so in this. I will not 
say more now, but that the Bishop of Salisbury 
has made a long thundering sermon this morning, 
which he has been with me to desire to print, 

214 Letters of Boyal Personages. 

which I could not refuse, though I should not 
have ordered it, for reasons which I told him. I 
am extreme impatient of hearing from you, which 
I hope in God will be before I sleep this night. 
If not, I think I shall not rest ; but if I should 
meet with a disappointment of 3'our not coming, 
I don't know what I shall do ; for my desire of 
seeing 3'ou is equal to my love, which cannot end 
but with m}' life. 

Hie Same to the Same. 

Whitehall, July j^, 1690. 
Every hour makes me more impatient to hear 
from you, and everything I hear stir, I think 
brings me a letter. I shall not go about to ex- 
cuse mj'self. I know 'tis a folh^ to a great degree 
to be so uneasy as I am at present, when I have 
no reason to apprehend any ill cause, but onh' 
might attribute your silence to your marching 
farther from Dublin, which makes the wav longer. 
I have staj^ed until I am asleep, in hopes ; but 
thej^ are vain, and I must once more go to bed, 
and wish to be waked with a letter from jon^ — 
which I shall at last get, I hope. Till I know 
whether 3'ou come or no, I cannot resolve to write 
you all that has passed this day, till which time I 

Letters of Queen Mary to King William. 215 

thought you had given me wrong characters of 
men, but now I see they answer my expectation 
of being as little of a mind as of a bod}'. Adieu ! 
do but love me and I can bear anything. 

The Same to the Same, 

These last two letters from Mary to her husband Avere 
written when she was impatiently awaiting his return 
from his Irisli campaign, and was hurrying forward the 
repairs upon the palace at Kensington, which she was fit- 
ting up and making ready for his return. 

Whitehall, ^n^, ^690. 

July 26' 

Last night I received 3'ours from Benit-bridge, 
by which I find 3'ou designed to summon Wa- 
terford last Monda3^ I beseech God give you 
good success, and send you safe and quickly 
home. There was order taken yesterday in coun- 
cil for the proroguing the parliament for three 
weeks. I have been this evening at Kensington ; 
for though I did believe 3'ou would not be willing 
to sta}' at Whitehall, yet I confess what you write 
me word makes me in a million of fears, especially 
since I must needs confess ni}' fault, that I have 
not been pressing enough till it was too late. 
The outside of the house is the fiddling work, 
which takes up more time than one can imagine, 

216 Letters of Eoyal Personages. 

and while the scaffolds are up the windows must 
be boarded up, but as soon as tliat is done your 
own apartment may be furnished ; and though 
mine cannot possibly be ready 3'et awhile, I have 
found out a wa}' if you please : which is, that I 
may make use of Lord Portland's, and he lie in 
some of the other rooms. We ma}' lie in your 
chamber, and I go through the council-room 
down, or else dress me there. And as I sup- 
pose 3'our business will bring 3'ou often to town, 
so I ma}" take such times to see companj' here, 
and that part of the famil}" which can't come there 
must stay here ; for 't is no matter what incon- 
veniences any else suffers for your dear sake ; 
and this wa}' I think the only one yourself will 
have will be my lying in 3'our chamber, which you 
know I can make as eas}' to you as may be ; our 
being there will certainly forward the work. I 
hope this letter will not come to 3'our hands, but 
that you will be upon your way hither before this. 
M}' greatest fear is for your closets here ; but if 
3'ou w411 consider how much sooner you come 
back than one durst have hoped, you will forgive 
me, and I can't but be extreme glad to be so 
deceived. God in his mercy send us a happy 
meeting and a quick one, for which I am much 
more impatient than I can possibly express. 

Letters of Queen Mary to King William. lYl 

The Same to the Same. 

Whitehall, Aug. ^, 1690. 

Unless I could express the joy I had at the 
thoughts of youv coming, it will be in vain that I 
undertake telling 3'ou of the disappointment 't is 
to me that you do not come so soon. I began to 
be in great pain lest 3'ou had been in the storm a 
Thursday night, which I am told was great (though 
its being at the other side of the house hindered 
my hearing it), but was sooa delivered by your 
letter of the 29th from Ch. I confess I deserve 
such a stop to my joj', since ma}' be it was too 
great; and I am not thankful enough to God, 
and we are all apt to be too vain upon so quick 
a success. But I have mortification enough to 
think 3'our dear person may be again exposed at 
the passage of the Shannon as it was at that of 
the Bo3'ne. This is what goes to m}' heart ; but 
yet I see the reasons for it so good that I will 
not murmur, for certain I3' 3'our glor3' would be the 
greater to terminate the war this summer, and 
the people here much better pleased than if the3' 
must furnish next vear for the same thing again. 
Upon these considerations I ought to be satisfied, 
and I will endeavour as much as mav be to sub- 

218 Letters of Royal Personages, 

mit to the will of God and your judgment ; but 
3'ou must forgive a poor wife, who loves you so 
dearl}^, if I can't do it with dry e3'es. Yet, since 
it hath pleased God so wonderfully to preserve 
3'ou all your life, and so miraculously now, I need 
not doubt but he will still preserve 3'ou ; 3'et let 
me beg 3'ou not to expose yourself unnecessarily, 
— that will be too much tempting that Providence 
which I hope will still watch over you. Mr. 
Russel is gone down to the fleet last Thursda3% 
to hasten as much as ma}' be all things there, and 
will be back a Mondaj', when there is a great 
council appointed. I don't doubt but this Com- 
mission will find man}' obstacles ; and this naming 
Killigrew among such as don't like him will be 
called in question, as well as the other two, and I 
shall hear again that 'tis a thing agreed among 
two or three. I will not write now, no more than 
I used to do, what others can ; and indeed I am 
fit for nothing this day, my heart is so oppressed. 
I don't know what to do. I have been at Ken- 
sington for some hours quiet, to-morrow being 
the first Sunday of the month, and have made use 
of Lord Portland's closet, as I told you in my 
last I would. 

The house would have been ready by Tuesday 
night, and I hope will be in better order now ; 

Prince Albert to Queen Victoria. 219 

at least, it shall not be my fault if 'tis not. I 
shall be veiy impatient to hear again from 3'ou, 
till when I shall be in perpetual pain and trouble ; 
which I think you can't wonder at, knowing that 
you are dearer to me than life. 

Prince Albert to Queen Victoria, 

This letter from Albert, Prince-Consort to Queen Vic- 
toria, closes this collection of royal letters. It was written 
by Prince Albert just after Iiis parting from the queen for 
a visit to Germany, his first absence from her after their 

"Princess Alice," in Dover Harbour, 
March 28, 1844. 

My own Darling, — We got over our journey 
thus far rapidly and well, but the tide has been so 
unmannerly as to be an hour later than the cal- 
culated time, so that I cannot sail before three. 
Nevertheless Smithett promises to deposit me at 
Ostend by half past seven. I have been here 
about an hour, and regret the lost time I might 
have spent with j^ou. Poor child ! 3'ou will, 
while I write, be getting read}^ for luncheon, and 
will find a place vacant where I sat yesterday. 
In your heart, however, I hope m}' place will not 
be vacant. I, at least, have you on board with 
me in spirit. 

220 Letters of Royal Personages, 

I reiterate my entreaty, "bear up," and do not 
give wa}' to low spirits, but try to occup}' 3'ourself 
as much as possible. You are even now half a 
day nearer to seeing me again ; hy the time you 
get this letter it will be a whole da}' ; thirteen 
more, and I am again within j'our arms. 

The railroad is wonderful, especiall}" that part 
of it between this and Folkestone. I have gone 
through part of the fortifications with some of the 
commanding officers, and am now writing in a 
handsome cabin of the '^Princess Alice." The}' 
are on the point of raising the anchor, which 
makes a hideous clatter. 

Our caravan is complete. The sun shines 
brighth', and the sea is calm. To-morrow Sey- 
mour will bring you further news of me. 

Your most devoted 




/ assert, then, that although all the gods are immortally 
happy J Love, if I dare trust my voice to express so awful a 
truth, is the happiest and most excellent and most beautiful 
of all. — Plato. 



The Paston Letters.^ 

One of the most interesting collections of old letters 
wliicli has come down to us from the past is that of the 
Paston family, who were people of consequence in the 
fifteenth century. Their domestic correspondence, which 
was carefully preserved, throws a vivid light on the social 
and family life of the time. The head of the family about 
the middle of the century was John Paston, whose wife, 
Margaret, writes a large number of the letters in the 

She was an affectionate wife as well as a true helpmeet. 
The following is one of her letters written in their early 
married life, when her husband had been ill away from 
home, in his lodgings in the Temple in London. Every 
woman will appreciate the tenderness with which she writes 
him, that she would rather he would have been at home, if 
he could have had there as good care as she knows he had 
received in London, than have had a new gown, even though 
it were of scarlet. 

1 The spelling, and occasionally an old English word, of the 
Paston letters here transcribed, have been modernized, in order 
that thev might be more readilv understood bv the general reader. 

224 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

Margaret Paston to her Husband, 

To my right worshipful husband, John Paston, dwelling 

at the Inner Temple in London, in haste. 

OxNEAD, 28 Sept., 1443. 

Eight worshipful Husband, — I recommend 
me to you, desiring heartih^ to hear of 3'our wel- 
fare, thanking God of your mending of the great 
disease 3^e have had ; and I thank 3'ou for the 
letter that 3'e sent me, for by my troth m}' mother 
and I were not in heart's ease from the time that 
we wist of 3'our sickness till we wist A^erily of 3'our 
mending. My mother behested another image of 
wax of the weight of 3'ou, to Our Lad3' of Wal- 
singham, and she sent four nobles to the four 
orders of friars at Norwich to pra3' for 3'ou, and I 
have behested to go on a pilgrimage to Walsing- 
ham and to St. Leonard's for 3'ou. By my troth, 
I had never so heav3^ a season as I had from the 
time I wist of your sickness till I wist of 3'our 
mending ; and since, m3^ heart is not in great ease 
nor I wot shall be till I wot that ye be very hale. 
Your father and mine was this da3^ sevennight at 
Bekeleys for a matter for the prior of Bronholme, 
and he lay at Geii3'ston that night and was there 
till IX. of the clock and the other day. And I 
sent thither for a gown, and m3' mother said that 

Margaret Paston to her Husband. 225 

I should have then, till I be there anon, and so 
they could none get. 

M}' father Garners sent me word that he should 
be here next week, and m}^ uncle also, and hunt 
here with their hawks, and the}" should take me 
home with them ; and so, God help me, I shall 
excuse me of my going thither if I ma}', for I sup- 
pose that I shall readilier have tidings from you 
here than I should have there. ... I pray you 
heartily that ye will vouchsafe to send me a letter 
as hastily as ye may, if writing be no disease to 
you ; and that ye will vouchsafe to send me word 
how your sore doeth. If I might have had my 
will I should have seen you ere this time. I would 
ye were at home — if it were your ease, and your 
sore might have been as well looked after here 
as there it has been — now, liever than a gown, 
though it were of scarlet. I pray you if your sore 
be healed, and so that ye may endure to ride, that 
ye will ask leave, and come home, when the horse 
shall be sent back again ; for I hope ye could be 
kept as tenderly here as ye have been in London. 
I may not liever have to do written a quarter as 
much as I should say to you if I might but speak 
to you. I shall send another letter as hastily as 
I may. I thank you that you would vouchsafe 
to remember my girdle, and that ye would write to 

226 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

me at the time, for I suppose that writing was not 
eas}' to 3'ou. Almighty God have 3^011 in his keep- 
ing, and send you health. 

Written at Oxnead, in right great haste on St. 
Michael's Eve. 


M. Paston. 

My mother greets you well, and sendeth ^'ou 
God's blessing and hers ; and she prayeth 3'ou, 
and I pray 3^ou also, that j'e be well dieted of 
meat and drink, for that is the greatest hope 3'e 
have now to your health-ward. Your son fareth 
well, blessed be God I 

Sir John Paston to Anne Haute, 

Madame Margaret Paston, who wrote the above letter, 
had several children, among them two sons named John, 
and a daughter named for herself, and familiarly known 
as " Margery." The oldest son, John, was made a knight 
when twenty-one years old, which made him a very de- 
sirable match for the young ladies of the time. He seems 
to have been difficult to suit and to have paid his addresses 
to several without result, for he died a bachelor in 1487. 
This letter was written by him to a lady of French birth 
but English family, residmg in Calais, with whom for some 
years he seems to have kept up a desultory courtship. 

Sir John Paston to Anne Haute. 227 

21 July, 1468. 

Since it is so that I ma}^ not, as oft as I would, 
be where I might do my message m3'self, mine 
own fair mistress Anne, I pray 3'ou to accept this 
billet from my messenger to recommend me 
to you in m}" most faithful wise, as he that 
fainest of all others desireth to know of your 
welfare, which I pray God increase to your most 

And, Mistress, though so be that I have as 3'et 
given you but little cause to remember me, for lack 
of acquaintance, I beseech you let me not be forgot 
when 3'ou reckon up all your servants, to set me 
among the number. 

I pra}' you, Mistress Anne, for that service 
that I owe you, that in as short time as ye 
goodl}' may, that I might be ascertained of 3'our 
intent and of your best friends in such matters as 
I have broken to you of, which both your and mine 
right trusty friends John Lee, or else my mistress 
his wife, promised before you and me, at our first 
and last being together, that as soon as the}', or 
either of them, knew 3'our intent and 3'our friend's, 
they should send me word. And if they do so I 
trust soon after to see 3'ou. And now farewell, 
mine own fair lad}', and God give you good rest, 

228 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

for in faith I trow j'e be in bed. Written on my 
way homeward, on St. Mary Magdalene's day at 

Your own 

John Paston. 

P. S. Mistress Anne, I am proud that ye can 
read Enghsh. Wherefore I pray 3'ou acquaint 
you with this my rude hand, for my purpose 
is ye should be more acquainted with it, or else 
it shall be against mj' will ; but 3'et, and when ye 
have read this billet, I pray 3'ou burn it, or keep 
it secret to 3'ourself, as my faithful trust is in 

Margery Brews to Jolin Paston. 

After the death of the first Sir John Paston, in 1487, his 
brother, the second John, succeeded him in the title and 
became the chief personage in the family. He seems to 
have been also difficult to suit in a wife, and was several 
years in search of one. Before the elder Sir John's death, 
this younger brother was constantly seeking the inter- 
cession and counsel of the head of the family regarding 
his marriage, often having two or three matches under con- 
sideration at about the same time. At last in 1477 he met 
his fate in the person of Mistress Margery Brews, who 
seems to have had the requisite decision of character to 
bring him to the point. John, the younger, had consulted 
the parents of Margery about the portion they proposed 

Margery Brews to John Paston. 229 

to give with their daughter (a very important considera- 
tion with him, by the way), and the cautious fatlier of the 
girl had reserved his decision about the money settlemect. 
Dame Elizabeth Brews, the mother, invited young John to 
their house at Topcroft, to meet Margery, but cautioned 
him on no account to reveal to her that he stood in the posi- 
tion of a suitor till the money matter was settled. But it 
seems that John had neglected this caution, and only a 
little after his visit, just before Valentine's day, 1477, the 
mother writes to John in this wise : — 

" You promised me not to break the matter to Margery 
until such time as ye and I were at point. But ye have 
made her such an advocate for you that I may never have 
rest, day nor night, for her calling and crying me to bring 
the said matter to effect. 

" Now, cousin, upon Friday is St. Valentine's day, when 
every bird chooseth him a mate ; and if it like you to come 
Thursday at night and stay here till Monday, I trust to 
God ye shall speak to my husband, and I shall pray ye 
may bring the matter to a conclusion." 

In spite of this there must still have been some holding 
off about money matters, on the part of father Brews, and 
he was evidently unwilling to give as much dowry with 
his daughter as John desired, for the young lady herself 
felt obliged to follow up her mother's letter with these two 
ardent, yet business-like epistles. It is a comfortable 
thing to learn that these letters ended the affair, and the 
wavering John, who had one or two other ladies in his 
mind, settled it in favour of Margery, and she became his 
wife that year. The attempts at poetry in Mistress iVlar- 
gery's valentine may serve as a model for modern efforts 
in that line. 

230 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

Margery Breivs to John Paston, 

Unto my right well-beloved Valentine, John Paston, Esq., 
be this billet delivered. 

TopcROFT, Feb., 1477. 
Eight reverend and worshipful and my right 
well-beloved Valentine, I recommend me unto 
3'ou, full heartily desiring to hear of 3'our wel- 
fare, which I beseech Almighty God long to pre- 
serve unto his pleasure and your heart's desire. 
And if it please you to hear of )ny welfare, I am 
not in good health of bod}^ or of heart, nor shall 
be till I hear from 3'Ou. 

For there wots no creature what pain I endure, 
And for to be deed, I dare not it discure [discover]. 

And my lad}^, m}^ mother, has laboured the mat- 
ter to m}^ father full diligentl}^ but she can no 
more get than }'e know of, for the which God 
knoweth I am full sorry. But if that ye love me, 
as I trust verily that 3 e do, ye will not leave me 
therefor ; for if ^e had not half the livelihood that 
3^e have, for to do the greatest labour that an3^ 
woman alive might, I would not forsake you. 

And if ye command me to keep true wherever I go, 

I wis I will do all m}^ might j^ou to love and never no mo*; 

And if my friends say that I do amiss, 

They shall not prevent me so for to do. 

Margery Brews to John Paston. 231 

My heart me bids evermore to love you 

Truly over all earthly thing. 

And if they be never so wroth 

I trust it shall be better in time coming. 

No more to 3'ou at this time, but the Holy 
Trinity have you in his keeping. And I beseech 
3'ou that this billet be not seen of no earthl}' crea- 
ture save only 3'ourself, &c. 

And this letter was indite at Topcroft with full 

heavy heart 

B3' your own 

Margery Brews. 

The Same to the Same. 

To my right well-beloved cousin, John Pastox, Esq., be 
this letter delivered. 

February, 1477* 

Right worshipful and well-beloved Valentine, 
in m}^ most humble wise I recommend me to 
you, &c. And heartil}' I thank you for the let- 
ter which ye sent me b}' John Bekarton, whereby 
1 understand and know that ye be purposing 
to come to Topcroft in short time, and with- 
out any errand or matter, but only to have a 
conclusion of the matter between my father and 
3'ou. I would be most glad of an}' creature alive, 
so that this matter might grow to effect. And 
there as ye sa}', and yg come and find the matter 

232 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

no more towards 3'ou than ye did aforetime, ye 
would no more put my father and my lad}', m}^ 
mother, to no cost nor business for that cause, a 
good while after, which causeth mine heart to be 
right heavy ; and if that ye come, and the matter 
come to no result, then should I be much more 
soriT and full of heaviness. 

And as for mj'self I have done and understand 
in the matter all that I can or may, as God know- 
eth, and I let you plainly understand that my 
father will no mere money part withal in that be- 
half but 500/. and 507?2., which is right far from 
the accomplishment of 3'our desire. 

Wherefore, if that ye could be content with that 
good and my poor person, I would be the merri- 
est maiden on ground, and if 3'e think not your- 
self satisfied, or that ye might have much more 
good, as I have understood by you before, good, 
true, and loving Valentine, that 3'e take no such 
labour upon 3'e as to come more for that matter ; 
but let it pass, and never more be spoken of as I 
ma3" be 3'our true lover and bedwoman during my 

No more to 3'ou at this time, but Almighty 
Jesus preserve 3'Ou, both bod3' and soul! 
By your Valentine, 

Margery Brews. 

Richard Calk to Margery Paston. 233 

Richard Calle to Margery Paston. 

There is so little sentiment to be found in the wooing of 
the two Sir Johns, that it is refreshing to find it green and 
flourishing in the heart of Margery Paston, the sister of 
these two gentlemen. That Margery felt a true affection is 
proved by the fact that she kept loyal through the course 
of a love that ran anything but smooth. 

It seems that Sir John, the elder brother, had a bailiff 
in charge of his estates named Richard Calle, who was a 
very valuable man of business in the family, a young man, 
and one who by his letters seems quite equal, if not supe- 
rior in mind, to the gentlemen of the Paston family. On 
him Lady Margery set her heart, and being, by all evi- 
dence, a young woman of strong will, " where she had set 
her heart, there it must abide." The wroth and opposition 
of lier family were extreme, and when we consider what an 
unusual thing it was in the fifteenth century for a young 
woman to breast the opposition of all her kinsfolk, we 
must have both sympathy and admiration for her as a 
brave and loyal girl. Before her family had quite found 
out the matter she had entered into a solemn troth-plight 
with Richard, — a phght the Church considered sacred, 
and which, if certain words were uttered, even her kinsfolk 
would not dare to annul, as they were binding in the eyes 
of the Church. If she had said this thing, her friends 
would not (as Richard Calle writes her), "if ye tell them 
solemnly the truth, damn tlieir souls for us," as they would 
be in danger of doing if they annulled a troth-plight. So 
Margery was carried before the Bishop of Norwich, who 
was the nearest dignitary of the Church, to be examined 
as to the validity of her contract. The Bishop began by 

234 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

reminding lier of her high birth and the friends she had 

and would have if she allowed herself to be ruled by them, 

and then asked her if she had said words to Calle that 

meant matrimony. Then Margery stood up bravely and 

repeated her words, and said, "if these words were not 

sure, she would make them still surer ere she went home, 

for she knew in her conscience she was bound, whatever 

the words she said." On which her mother and brothers 

waxed so much more wroth that they refused even to let 

her enter their doors while the Bishop was deciding the 

case, and the reverend judge was obliged to find a shelter 

in Norwich for her. He finally decided in favour of the 

lovers, and she became Mistress Richard Calle, who still 

continued his services in the family as bailiff, being too 

valuable a man to part with, although he seems never to 

have been received as a member of the family. Thus ends 

this romance of 1469, and here is one of its remains in 

the letter of Richard to Margery, written before she had 

her trial of love before the good Bishop of Norwich. Of 

Margery's letters we have none preserved ; very likely they 

were destroyed by her family. 

1469 (May?). 

MixE own lad}^ and mistress, and before God 
very true wife, I with heart full sorrowful recom- 
mend me to you, as he that cannot be merrj', nor 
nought shall be till it is otherw^ise with us than it is 
yet, for this life that we lead now is neither pleas- 
ure to God nor to the world, considering the great 
bond of matrimon\' that is betwixt us, and also the 
great love that hath been and, as I trust, is yet 
betwixt us, and on my part never greater. Where- 

Richard Calle to Margery Paston. 235 

fore I beseech Almighty God comfort us as soon 
as it pleases him, for we that ought of very right 
to be most together are most asunder : meseemeth 
it is a thousand years ago since I spake with you. 
I had liever than all the good in the world I might 
be with you. Alas, alas, good lady, full little re- 
member they what they do that keep us asunder ; 
four times in the year are they cursed that hinder 
matrimon}' ; it causeth many men to deem they 
have large conscience in other matters as well as 
herein. But what lad}' suffers as ye have done? 
Make ye as merry as ye can, for I wis, lad}', at 
the long way, God will of his right wiseness help 
his servants that mean truly and would live ac- 
cording to his laws. 

I understand, lady, that ye have made as much 
sorrow for me as an}' gentlewoman hath had in the 
world. Would God all the sorrow 3'e have had, 
had rested upon me, so that ye had been dis- 
charged of it, for I wis, dear ladv, it is to me a 
death that ye be treated otherwise than 3'e ought to 
be. This is a painful life that we lead. I cannot 
live thus without it be a great displeasure to God. 

Also like you to wit that I sent you a letter by 
my lad, from London, and he told me that he 
might not speak with you, there was made so 
great await upon him and upon you both. He 

236 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men^ etc. 

told me John Thresher came to him in your name, 
and said that ye sent him to my lad for a ring or 
a token which I should have sent j^ou, but he 
trusted him not ; he would not deliver him none. 
After that he brought him a ring saying that ye 
sent it him, commanding him that he should de- 
liver the letter or token to him, which I conceive 
was not b}' j'our sending ; it was by my mistress's 
and Sir James's advice. Alas I what mean they ? 
I suppose the}^ deem we be not ensured together, 
and if tlie}^ do so I marvel, for then they are not 
well advised, remembering the plainness that I 
break to mj' mistress in the beginning, and I sup- 
pose \}\ jou both, and ye did as ye ought to do 
of very right; and if you have done the contrar}', 
as I am informed 3^e have done, 3'e did neither 
conscientiously nor to the pleasure of God, unless 
ye did it for fear, and for the time to please such 
as were at that time about you, and if 3'e so did 
it for this service it was for a reasonable cause, 
considering the great and unbearable calling upon 
that 3'e had, and man3' an untrue tale was told 3'ou 
of me, which God knows I was never guiltN' of. 

My lad told me that my mistress, 3'our mother, 
asked him if he had brought an v letter to 3'ou ; and 
raan3' other things she bear him on hand, and 
among all other, at the last she said to him that I 

BicJiard Calle to Margery Paston. 237 

would not make her acquainted with the beginning, 
but she supposed I would at the ending ; and as 
to that, God knows she knew first of me and none 
other. I wot not what her mistresship meant ; 
for, by my troth, there is no gentlewoman alive 
that mj' heart tendereth more than it doth her, nor 
is loather to displease, saving onl}' your person, 
which of ver}" right I ought to tender and love best, 
for I am bound thereto by the law of God, and so 
will do while I live, whatsoever befalls. I sup- 
pose, and ye tell them solemnly the truth, they 
will not damn their souls for us ; though I tell 
them the truth, the}^ will not believe me as well 
as the}' will do 3'ou ; and therefore, good lady, at 
the reverence of God, be plain to them and tell 
them the truth, and if the}' will in no wise agree 
thereto, betwixt God, the Devil, and them be it ; 
and that peril that we should be in, I beseech God 
it may lie upon them and not upon us. . . . 

Madame, I am afraid to write you, for I under- 
stand 3'e have showed the letters that I have 
sent 3'ou before this time, but I pray you let no 
creature see this letter. As soon as ye have read 
it, let it be burnt, for I would no man should see 
it in no wise. Ye had no writing from me this 
two 3'ears, nor I w^ould not send ye no more ; 
therefore I remit all this matter to your wisdom. 

238 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

Almighty Jesu preserve, keep, and give 3'ou 3'onr 
heart's desire, which I wot w^ell would be to God's 

This letter was written with as great pain as 
ever wrote I thing in my life ; for in good faith I 
have been right sick, and yet am not very w^ell at 
ease. God amend it, &c. 

Roger AscJiam to Ids Wife Margaret , in Consolation for 
the Death of their Son, Stwm Ascham, 

The following letter was written by Eoger Ascham, 
the famous schoolmaster of the sixteenth century. He 
was the teacher of Queen Elizabeth in her girlliood,, and 
of Lady Jane Grey; and these two princesses seem to have 
been favourite pupils of his, for he cannot speak too highly 
in praise of their learning and studiousness. 

His marriage, which took place rather late in life, when 
he was nearly forty, seems to have been a very happy one. 
At tlie time of his marriage he wrote thus to his friend 
John Sturm : — 

*' You w^ish to know about my wife. In face she is like 
her aunt, the wife of Sir R. Walop. She is just such a 
wife as John Sturm would desire for his friend Roger As- 
cham. Her name is Margaret; our wedding-day was the 
1st of June, 1554, if there be anything lucky in that name 
or that day." 

November, 1568. 

Mine owk good Margaret, — The more I 
think on your sweet babe, as I do man}' times, 

Roger Ascham to Ids Wife. 239 

both day and night, the greater cause I alwa^'s 
find of giving thanks continually to God for his 
singular goodness besto^yed at this time upon the 
child, yourself, and me, even because it has rather 
pleased him to take the child to himself in heaven 
than to leave it here with us still on earth. When 
I mused on the matter as nature, flesh, and fa- 
therh^ fantasy did carr}' me, I found nothing but 
sorrows and care, which did very much vex and 
trouble me ; but at last, forsaking these worldly 
thoughts, and referring me whollj' to the will and 
order of God in the matter, I found such a 
change, such a cause of joy, such a plent}' of 
God's grace towards the child, and of his good- 
ness towards 3'ou and me, as neither my heart 
can comprehend nor yet my tongue express the 
twentieth part thereof. 

Nevertheless, because God and good-will hath 
so joined me and 3'ou together as we must not 
only be the one a comfort to the other in sorrow, 
but also partakers together in any jo}', I could 
not but declare unto you what just cause I think 
we both have of comfort and gladness, by that 
God hath so graciousl}' dealt with us as he hath. 
M}' first step from care to comfort was this ; I 
thought God had done his will with our child, and 
because God by his wisdom knoweth what is best, 

240 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

and by his goodness will do best, I was by and 
b}' fully persuaded the best that can be is done 
with our sweet child ; but seeing God's wisdom is 
unsearchable with any man's heart, and his good- 
ness unspeakable with any man's tongue, I will 
come down from such high thoughts and talk more 
sensibly with you, and k}^ before j'ou such matter 
as may be both a full comfort for our cares past, 
and also a just cause of rejoicing as long as we 
live. You well remember our continual wish and 
desire, our nightlj' pra3'er together, that God would 
vouchsafe to us to increase the number of the 
world ; we wished that nature should beautifully 
perform the work b}' us ; we did talk together how 
to bring up our child in learning and virtue ; we 
had care to provide for it, so as honest fortune 
should favour and follow it. And see, sweet wife, 
how mercifully God hath dealt with us in all 
points ; for what wish could desire, what pra3'er 
could crave, what nature could perform, what A'ir- 
tue could deserve, what fortune could perform, 
both we have received and our child doth enjo}' al- 
read3^ And because our desire (thanked be God) 
was alwaj's joined with honest}' and our prayers 
mingled with fear, the will and pleasure of God 
hath given us more than we wished, and that is 
better for us now than we could hope to think 

Pioger AscJiam to his Wife. 241 

upon ; but you desire to bear and know bow, 
many, even tbus wc desired to be made vessels 
to increase tbe eartb, and God batb made us ves- 
sels to increase beaven, wbicb is tbe greatest 
bonour to man, tbe greatest joy to beaven, the 
greatest spite to tbe devil, tbe greatest sorrow to 
bell, tbat anj' man can imagine. Secondarily, 
wben nature bad performed wbat she would, grace 
stepped fortb and took our cbild from nature, as 
wbere it could not creep in eartb b}' nature, it 
was straigbtway able to soar to beaven by grace. 
It could not tben speak by nature, and now it 
does praise God by grace ; it could not tben com- 
fort tbe sick and careful mother by nature, and 
now, tbrougb praj'er, is able to belp father and 
mother by grace ; and yet, thanked be nature, 
tbat batb done all sbe could do, and blessed be 
grace, that hath done more and better than we 
would wish sbe sbould have done. Peradventure 
3'ou do wisb that nature bad kept it from death a 
little longer ; yea, but grace bas carried it wbere 
now no sickness can follow nor any deatb here- 
after meddle with it ; and instead of a short 
life witb troubles on earth, it doth live a life 
tbat shall never end, witb all manner of jo3's in 

And now, Margaret, go to, I pray 3'ou, and tell 

242 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

me as you think, do 3^011 love 3^our sweet babe so 
little, do 3'ou env}^ his happ^^ state so much, 3'ea, 
once to wish that nature should have followed 
A^our pleasure in keeping your child in this miser- 
able world, than that grace should have purchased 
such profit for your child as bringing him to felic- 
ity in heaven? Thirdly', you ma}' say to me, — 
if the child had lived in this world, it might have 
come to such goodness by grace and virtue as 
might have turned to great comfort to us, to good 
service to our countr}', and served to have deserved 
as high a place in heaven as he doth now. To 
this in short, I answer, ought we not in all things 
to submit to God's good will and pleasure, and 
thereafter to rule our affections, which I doubt 
not but 3'ou will endeavour to do. And therefore 
I will say no more, but with all comfort to you 
here, and a blessing hereafter, which I doubt not 
but is prepared for 3'ou, 

Your dearly loving husband, 

Roger Ascham. 
To my dear wife, Margaret Ascham, these. 

8ir William St. Lo to his Wife. 
The Countess of Shrewsbury was one of the most remark- 
able women of the reign of Queen Elizabeth; beautiful in 
person, though masculine in character, and by all evidence 

Sir William SL Lo to Ms Wife, 243 

utterly selfish and without heart. Yet her fascination 
lielped her to four husbands, each of whom seems to have 
been equally in love with her, and each of whom she ruled 
with imperious sway. This letter from her third husband, 
William St. Lo, a bluff soldier of Elizabeth's guard, was 
written while he was stationed at the queen's palace in 

4 Septemrer (about 15G0?). 

My O'^TX, — More clearer to me than I am to 
ni3'seif, thou shalt understand that it is no small 
fear nor grief to me of thy well-doing than I 
should presently see what I dowgst, not only for 
that my continual nigbth' dreams beside my ab- 
sence have troubled me, but also chiefly that 
Hugh Alsop cannot certify me in what estate 
tliou nor thine is, whom I tender more than I do 
William St. Lo. Therefore I pra}' thee, as thou 
dost love me, let me shortly hear from thee, for the 
quieting of my unquieted mind, how thine own 
sweet self with all thine doeth, trusting shortly I 
may be among you. All my friends here salutelh 
thee. Harry Skipwith desired me to make thee 
and none other privy that he is sure of Mistress 
Nell, with whom he is by this time. He hath 
sent ten thousand thanks unto th3'self for the 
same. She hath opened all her heart unto him. 

To-morrow, Sir Richard Sackville and I ride 
to London together ; upon Saturday next we re- 

244 Letters of Statesmen^ Military Men, etc, 

turn hither again. The Queen \_Elizahetli'\ 3'ester- 
daj' her own self riding upon the waj' craved my 
horse, unto whom I gave him, receiving openh' for 
the same man}' goodly words. 

Thus wishing m3'self with th^'self, I bid thee, 
my own good servant and chief overseer of my 
works, most heartily farewell. From thine who is 
wholly and onl}' thine, yea, and for all thine while 
life lasteth. 

From Windsor, the 4th of September, b^' thy 
right worshipful master and most honest hus- 

Master Sir William St. Lo., Esq. 

Earl of Shrew shury to the Countess. 
After the deatli of AVilliam St. Lo his lady married 
George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, who was as much 
enamoured of her as any of the three husbands who had 
preceded him. As in her previous marriages, she schemed 
very cleverly to get the lion's share of the property into 
her hands and a controlling influence over his affairs. But 
in some of her scheming she overreached herself. Not 
long after her marriage wuth the Earl, Mary Queen of Scots 
threw herself upon the protection of Elizabetli, " her cousin 
and sister-queen." As soon as Mary's coming to England 
was made certain, the Countess of Shrewsbury began to 
seek for her husband the dangerous honour of custodian 
to the person of the Scottish queen. In this she succeeded. 

Eo.rl of Shrewsbicrij to the Countess. 245 

Elizabeth placed her charge in the keeping of tlie Earl and 
Countess, and their castle was turned, in a manner, into a 
prison to hold the royal guest. It was not long after, that 
trouble began in the family of the Earl of Shrewsbury. 
Whether Mary Stuart used her fascination to excite the 
Earl's compassion and alleviate her captivity, is not cer- 
tain, though not unlikely. It is certain that for once the 
managing Countess found her rival, if not her match. 
She could not conceal lier discontent with the affairs in 
her household, and when Queen Elizabeth one day inquired 
how her prisoner fared, she made answer : *' She cannot 
fare ill while she is with my Imsband; and I begin to grow 
jealous, they are so groat together." 

Queen Mary herself writes to one of her friends in 
France : " I have twice informed you minutely of the 
scandalous reports which have been circulated of my inti- 
macy with the Earl of Shrewsbury. These have originatetl 
with no one hut his good lady herself. If the Queen of Eng- 
land doth not have this calumny cleared up, I shall be 
obliged openly to attack the Countess of Shrewsbury her- 

It was not long after this that Elizabeth compelled the 
Earl to relinquish his charge, but not before lie and his 
Countess had fallen into such disagreement as was never 
wholly removed, although at last a peace was patched up 
between them. The Earl died some time before his wife, 
who spent her latest days in bickering and contentions 
with different members of her family, and in building and 
repairing the castles in her possession, — an occupation 
which seemed to gratify the ambition of her restless old 

The following letters were written to her by the Earl in 
the days of their early wedded life before she had begun 

246 Letters of Statesmen, Militanj Men, etc. 

to be jealous of Queen Mary, at the time even when she 
was planning to secure the office of custodian to the queen 
for her husband. 

Hampton Court, 1568. 

Mr DEAR One, — Having received a letter of 
the 1st of December, which came in very good 
time, else had I sent one of the few remaining 
with me, to have bronght me vv^ord of 3'oui* health, 
which I doubted of, for that I heard not from 3-011 
of ail this time till now, which drove me in the 
dumps, but now relieved again hy youv writing 
unto me. 

I thank you, sweet one, for your puddings and 
venison. The puddings I have disposed in this 
wise : dozen to my Lady Cobham, and as many 
to ni}' Lad^' Stuard and unto my Lad}' of Leices- 
ter, and the rest I have reserved to myself to eat 
in my chamber. The venison is j'et in London, 
but I have sent for it thither. 

I perceive Ned Talbot hath been sick, and now 
past danger. I thank God I have such a one 
that is so careful over me and mine. God send 
me soon home to possess m}^ greatest ]o\. If 
you think that is you.^ \o\\ are not deceived. 

... I live in hope to be with you before 
you can return answer again. You shall under- 
stand that this present Monday', in the morn- 

Earl of Shrewsbury to the Countess, 247 

ing, finding the queen in the garden at good 
leisure, I gave her majest}' thanks that she Iiad 
so little regard to the clamorous people of Bolsor 
in my absence ! She declared unto me what evil 
speech had been said against me, and m}' nearness 
and state in housekeeping, and as much as was 
told her which she nowise believed, with as good 
words from her as I could wish, declaring that ere 
it were long I should well perceive she did trust 
me as she did few. She would not tell me 
wherein, but I doubt it was about the custodj' of 
the Queen of Scots. ... I think before Sunday 
these matters will come to some pass that we shall 
know how long our abode shall be, but howsoever 
it falls out I will not fail but be with 3'ou at Christ- 
mas, or else 3'ou shall come to me. 

The plague is dispersed far abroad in London, 
so the queen keeps her Christmas here and goeth 
not to Greenwich, as it was meant. My Lady 
Cobham wishes your presence here ; she loves 3'ou 
well. I tell her I have cause to love her best for 
that she washed me well speed with you, and I did. 
And as the pen writes^ so the hear't thinks^ that of all 
earthly joys I thanlc God chiefest for you^ for with 
you 1 have joys and contentation of mind,, and with- 
out you death is more pleasant to me than life if 1 
thought I should be long from you,, and therefore,^ 

248 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

good wife^ do as 1 will do^ hope shortly of our meet- 
ing^ and farewell^ dear^ sweet one! 

From Hampton Court this Monday at midnight, 
for it is ever}' night so late before I go to bed, 
being at play in the privy chamber at Primers, 
^'here I have lost almost one hundred pounds 
and lacked m}' sleep besides. 

Your faithful husband till death, 

G. Shrewsbury. 

The Same to the Same. 

My dear One, — Of all joys I have under God 
the greatest is j^ourself. To think I possess one 
so faithful and one that I know loves me so 
dearl}^ is all, and the greatest comfort, that this 
earth can give. Therefore, God give me grace to 
be thankful to him for his good showed upon me 
a vile sinner. \^Part of the letter here is effaced 
and the meaning ol)scure,~\ 

I thank 3'ou, sweet heart, that you are so read}" 
to come when I will ; therefore, dear heart, send 
me word how I might send for you, and till I 
ma}' have your company I shall think it long, my 
onh' joy, and therefore appoint a day, and in the 
meantime I shall content me with 3'our will, and 
long dail}' for 3'our coming. 

Walter Raleigh to Us Wife. 249 

I 3'our letters con very well, and I like them so 
well they could not be amended, and 1 have sent 
them up to Gilbert. I have written him how 
happy he is to have such a mother as 3'ou are. 
Farewell, my only joy. This Tuesda}^ eve. 

Your faithful one. 
To MY Wife. Shrewsbury. 

Walter Raleigh to his Wife. 

The following beautiful letter was written by Sir Walter 
Raleigh to his wife after his trial for treason and con- 
demnation to death in 1603. His sentence was afterwards 
reprieved and he Avas committed to imprisonment in the 
Tower, where he remained more than twelve years, his 
captivity during much of that time softened by the society 
and affection of his wife. During his imprisonment he 
wrote his History of the World, and he occupied himself 
also in experiments in chemistry and in medicine. The 
queen of James L, it is said, often sent for his remedies 
when she or any one of the royal children was ill, and 
Prince Henry, the eldest son of James I., w^as so much in 
sympathy with Raleigh that he said openly that no king 
but his father '* would keep so rare a bird in so ill a cage.'' 

You shall now receive, dear wife, my last 
words in these my last lines. My love I send 
you, that 30U ma}' keep it when I am dead ; and 
my counsel, that you may remember it when I am 

250 Letters of Statesmen ^ Military Men, etc. 

no more. I would not by ni}' will present j'ou 
with sorrows, dear Bess ; let them go to the grave 
and be buried with me in dust. And seeing it is 
not the will of God that I shall ever see j'ou more 
in this life, bear it patiently and with a heart like 

Firstlj^, I send you all the thanks my heart can 
conceive, or my words can express, for your many 
troubles and cares taken for me ; which, though 
they have not taken effect as 3^ou wished, 3'et the 
debt is nathless, and pay it I never shall in this 

Secondly, I beseech you b}' the love you bare 
me living, do not hide yourself in grief man}^ 
days, but seek to help the miserable fortunes of 
our poor child. Thy mourning cannot avail me ; 
I am but dust. . . . Remember 3'our poor child 
for his father's sake, who chose and loved you in 
his happiest time. God is my witness it is for 
you and yours T desired life ; but it is true I dis- 
dain mj'self for begging of it. For know, dear 
wife, that 3'our son is the son of a true man, and 
one who in his own respect despiseth death, and 
all his misshapen grisl3' forms. I cannot write 
much. God knows how hardl3' I stole the time, 
when all sleep ; and it is time to separate m3' 
thoughts from the world. Beg m3' dead bod3'. 

Walter Raleigh to his Wife. 251 

which living is denied thee, and either la}^ it at 
Sherbourne or in Exeter, by my father and 
mother. I can write no more. Time and Death 
call me away. 

The everlasting God, Infinite, Powerful, In- 
scrutable ; the Almighty God, which is Goodness 
itself, Mercy itself; the true light and life, — keep 
thee and thine, have mere}' on me and teach me 
to forgive my persecutors and false witnesses, 
and send us to meet again in His Glorious King- 
dom. My own true wife, farewell. Bless my 
poor boy. Pray for me, and let the good God 
fold 3'ou both in His arms. Written with the 
djing hand of sometime th}^ husband, but now, 
alas ! ov^er thrown. 

Yours that was, but not now m}' own, 

W. Ralegh. 

The Same to the Same. 

During the last years of Kaleigli's captivity the interest 
in American discovery was strongly aroused and there 
were rumours of rich mines discovered in Guiana. No 
man in England knew so much about America as Sir Wal- 
ter ; and the king, as mercenary as he was cowardly, finally 
concluded to send Sir Walter on an expedition, although 
his sentence was unrevoked and he was still held a pris- 
oner to the crown. He sailed in 1617 for the Orinoco 
region, and anchored near some Spanish settlements there. 

252 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

Almost immediately the old feud broke out, which rankled 
in the heart of every English sailor whenever the name 
Spaniard was spoken. The town was attacked and burned, 
the Spanish governor was killed, and also Raleigh's son 
Walter, who had gone with him on this expedition. It was 
upon his return, when he could clearly foresee his doom, 
that Sir Walter wrote the following to his wife to console 
her for the death of their son. 

March 22, 1618. 
Sweet Heart, — I was loath to write, because 
I knew not bow to comfort 3^ou ; and God knows 
I never knew wbat sorrow meant till now. All 
tbat I can say to 3'Ou is, that you must obej' tbe 
will and providence of God ; and remember that 
the Queen's Majestj^ bare the loss of Prince Henr}^ 
with a magnanimous heart, and the Lady Harring- 
ton of her onl}' son. Comfort 3'our heart, dearest 
Bess, I shall sorrow for us both ; I shall sorrow 
the less because I have not long to sorrow, because 
not long to live. I refer you to Secretary Win- 
hord's letter, who will give you a copj" of it if 3'ou 
send for it. Therein 3'ou shall know what has 
passed. I have written but that letter, for my 
brains are broken, and it is a torment for me to 
w^rite, and especiallj^ of miserj'. I have desired 
Mr. Secretary to give my Lord Carew a cop}^ of 
his letter. . . . You shall hear from me if I live, 
from the Newfoundland, where I mean to make 

Walter Raleigh to his Wife. 253 

clean my ships and revictual, for I have tobacco 
enough to pa}^ for it. The Lord bless and com- 
fort you, that you may bear patiently the death 
of 3'our valiant son. 


W. Ralegh. 

Kaleigh was arrested immediately after landing, and, 
without any new trial, was condemned to death mider the 
old sentence which for fourteen years had been hanging 
over his head. His wife, always devoted, made ineffectual 
efforts to save him. After his execution she wrote her 
brother, Sir Nicholas Carew : — 

"I desire, good brother, that you will be pleased to 
let me bury the worthy body of my noble husband in 
your church at Beddington, where I desire to be buried 
also. They have given me his dead body, though they de- 
nied me his life. This night he shall be brought you with 
two or three of my men. Let me hear presently. God 
hold me in my wits. 

''Elizabeth Ralegh." 

Sir Walter was not buried in Beddington notwithstand- 
ing this request. His remains are in St. Margaret^s Church 
just over the way from Westminster Abbey, and his faith- 
ful wife is not buried beside him. Her brief letter, with its 
supplication, " God hold me in my wits,^' is worth volumes 
of lamentation. 

254 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

From Kate, Duchess of Buckingham, to her Husband, 
George VUliers, Duke of Buckingham. 

The following letter was written by Kate Yilliers, 
Duchess of Buckingham, to her handsome and profligate 
husband, when he was absent in Spain, as friend and com- 
panion to Prince Charles, afterwards Charles I. It is to 
this same Duke of Buckingham, familiarly called "Steenie" 
by James I. and the prince, that King James wrote the let- 
ter quoted on page 200. 

The negotiations for Charles's marriage with the In- 
fanta, which took the Prince and his suite to Madrid, at 
the time tlie following letters were written, were carried on 
for some time, but the alliance was so obnoxious to the 
English people that it was finally given up. 

That the Duke of Buckingham was very attractive in 
person, and capable of inspiring most ardent attachments, 
is proved by the affection the king and prince felt for him 
as well as by the extravagant terms of his wife's letters. 

My dear Lord, — I humbly thank you that 
3'ou were pleased to write so many letters to me, 
which was so great a comfort to me as 3'ou cannot 
imagine, for I protest to God I have had a griev- 
ous time of this our grievous parting, for I am 
sure it has been so to me, and my heart has felt 
enough more than I hope it ever shall do again ; 
and I pray God release me out of it bj' 3'our speedy 
coming hither again to her that doth as dearly love 

Ducliess of Buckingham to her Husband. 255 

3'ou as ever woman did man ; and if everybod}' did 
love you but a quarter as well. 3'ou were the hap- 
piest man that ever was born, but that is impos- 
sible. But I protest I think you are the best 
beloved that ever favourite was, for all that have 
true worth in them cannot but love 3'our sweet 
disposition. If I were not so near to you as I 
thank God I am, I could say no less, if I said truth, 
for I think there never was such a man born as 
you are ; and how much am I bound to God that I 
must be that happy woman, to enjoy you from all 
other women, — I, the unworthiest of all, to have 
so great a blessing ! Onlj^ this I can say for my- 
self, 3'ou could never have had one that could love 
3'ou better than 3'our poor, true loving Kate doth, 
poor now in 3'our absence, but else the happiest 
and richest woman in the world. I thank you for 
your long letter ; I think I must give Sir Francis 
Cottington thanks for it too, because 3'ou sa3' he 
bade 3'ou write long letters. I am beholden to 
him for that, because I am sure he knew the3' could 
never be too long for me, for it is all the comfort I 
have now to read often over your letters. My 
reason that I desired 3011 not to do it was for fear 
of troubling 3'ou too much ; but, since 3'ou think it 
none, I am much bound to you for it, and I be- 
seech you to continue it. 

256 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

I hope 3'ou see by this, I have not omitted 
writing by any that went, for this is the sixteenth 
letter, at the least, I have written 3 ou since 3^011 
'went, whereof two of them I sent b}" the common 
post ; but I hope the3^ will all come safely to your 

I thank 3011 for sending me so good news of our 
3'oung mistress.^ I am ver3^ glad she is so deli- 
cate a creature, and of so sweet a disposition ; 
indeed, m3' Lad3^ Bristow sent me word she was 
a ver3^ fine lad3^ and as good as fine. I am very 
glad of it, and that the Prince likes her so well, 
for the King sa3^s he is wonderfully taken with her. 
That is a wonderful good hearing, for it were a 
great pity but the Prince should have one he could 
love, because I think he vnll make a ver3' honest 
husband, which is the greatest comfort in this 
world, to have man and wife love truly. 

I told the King of the private message the 
Infanta sent the Prince, to wear a great ruff; he 
laughed heartily at it, and said it was a good sign. 
I am ver3' glad you sent to hasten the ships. I 
hope you mean not to stay long, which I am very 
glad of. . . . 

I thank God, Moll is very well with her wean- 

1 The Infanta of Spain, the proposed wife of Charles I. 

Duchess of Buckingham to her Husband, 257 

ing. Thus, with my daily prayers for our happy 
meeting, I take m}' leave. 

Your loving and obedient wife, 

Kate Buckingham. 
I pray send me word when you come. 

The little Moll mentioned above was the daughter of 
the Duke, of whose baby ways the Duchess gives the fol- 
lowing lively description in another of her letters while the 
Duke is at this time absent. 

Moll is very well, I thank God, and when 
she is set upon her feet and held b}' the sleeves, 
she will not go slowly, but stamp and set one foot 
afore another very fast, that I think she wall run 
before she can go. She loves dancing extremely, 
and when the saraband be plaj^ed, she will get her 
finger and her thumb together, offering to snap ; 
and then when 2om Duff is sung, then will she 
shake her apron, and when she hears the tune 
of the clapping dance my Ladj' Frances Hubert 
taught the Prince, she will clap both her hands 
together and on her heart ; and she can tell the 
tunes as well as anj' of us can, and, as they 
change the tunes, she will change her dancing. 
I would 3^ou were but here to see her, for 3'oa 
would take much delight in her now she is so full 
of pretty plaj's and tricks ; and she has gotten 

258 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

a trick that when the}" dance her, she will cry 
" Ha ! ha I " and ]Sicholas will dance with his legs, 
and she will imitate him as well as she can. If 
one lay her down, she will kick her legs over her 
head ; but I hope as she grows older she will grow 
more modest. Everybody says she is more like 
3'on than an}' other. You shall have her picture 
veiT shortly. I am very glad you have the pearls 
and that you like them so well ; and I am sure 
the}' do not help you to win the ladies' hearts. 
Yourself is a jewel that will win the hearts of all 
the women in the world ^ but I am confident it is 
not in their power to win your heart from a heart 
that is, was, and ever shall be yours till death. 


Endymion Porter to his Wife^ Olive Porter, 

Another compaDion of Prince Charles on this embassy'' 
to Spain for the wooing of the Infanta, was Mr. Endymion 
Porter, who had been, in early life, resident in Spain, 
and in later years attached to the family of the great Duke 
of Buckingham. He was himself of good family, and is a 
most picturesque figure of a cavalier of this age. His 
marriage with his wife, Olive, to whom these letters are 
addressed, was purely a love-match, and it seems to have 
been a very happy one, although somewhat troubled by 
Olive's jealousy during his frequent absences, — a jeal- 
ousy which the free manners of the age and the society in 

Endymion Porter to his Wife, 259 

which he lived made not unreasonable. A great number 
of his early letters are devoted to soothing her jealous 
alarms and protesting his affection. In one of his letters 
he says : — 

" If you did but know how truly I love you, you would 
never be jealous of me, and had you such reports of me as 
you credited for truths, yet, if you loved me half as well 
as I desire, you would not so easily give credit to them." 

That he loved Olive one has little doubt, in re-reading his 
letters, yet for his fidelity he protests too much ; and when 
he writes that tlie Diike of Buckingham and himself " think 
of nothing but our wives," we suspect him of being in 
league with the Duke, and of writing for the eye of Kate 
Villiers as well as the jealous Olive. 

Even the sober Prince Charles seems to have been some- 
what infected by absence from home and by the climate 
of Spain, and there are authentic reports of a dewy morn- 
ing's adventure, in wliicli Endymion Porter helped the 
prince to clamber a garden wall that he might catch sight 
of the Infanta m her early walk in the palace gardens, 
and thus have a more undisturbed sight of his intended 
bride than the etiquette of the Spanish court afforded. I 
should like to hope that this was the least culpable adven- 
ture in which Endymion engaged, but there is some men- 
tion (in letters not intended for Olive's eye) of an " angel/' 
also referred to as the " mistress of his heart," whom he 
seems to have met during this journey abroad, which would 
give some colour to Olive's jealousy. 

When Endymion's fortunes in later years were clouded 
by his devotion to the royal family, his wife dropped all 
jealous reproaches and became a most helpful and noble 
wife. He went to France with Queen Henrietta Maria, 

260 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

and Olive Porter, remaining in England, used great address 
and courage in protecting and preserving his fortunes and 
interests at home. 

No date (probably 1622). > 
My dearest Olive, — Th}' care in sending to 
me shows me how trplj' thou lovest me, and 
tliy fear of my inconstancy argues no want of 
affection, onl}^ of faith, which, if any good works 
of mine ma}^ strengthen, I will come on my knees 
to see thee, and put out my ej'es rather than look 
with unchaste desire upon any creature while I 
breathe ; and to be more secure of me, I would 
have thee inquire if ever I was false to 2iny friend^ 
and then to consider what a traitor I should be, 
if to a wife (and to such a wife !) so virtuous and 
good, I should prove false, and not to my friends. 
Dear Olive, be assured that I strive to make my- 
self happy in nothing but in thee, and therefore I 
charge 3'ou to be meny, and to cherish your health 
and life, the more because I live in you. But 
what can I sa}^, or what in the least little can I 
do? Love you'^ That I do and ever shall, as he 
who vows never to be anybody's but your true 

Endymion Porter. 

Endymion Porter to his Wife. 261 

The Same to the Same, 

Written during his absence in Spain with Prince Charles 
and the Duke of Buckingham. 

Madrid, April 17, 1623, N. S. 
My dearest Oltye, — Since mj^ coming into 
Spain I have received four letters from 3'ou, and 
the two first with so much kindness in them that 
I thought my love rewarded ; bat the two last are 
so full of mistrust and falsehood that I rather fear 
you have changed j'our affection than that you 
have an}' sure ground for what 30U accuse me of 
in them ; for, as I hope for mercy at God's hands, 
I neither kissed nor touched any woman since 
I left you ; and for the inn-keeper's daughter at 
BuUen, I was so far from kissing her, that, as I 
hope to be saved ^ I cannot remember if I saio any such 
woman. No, Olive, I am not a dissembler, for I 
assure you the grief I suffered at parting with you 
gave me no leave to entertain such base thoughts, 
but rather lasted in me like a consumption, in- 
creasing daily more and more. But seeing 3'ou 
have taken a resolution (without hearing what I 
could say) " never to be confident of me again," 
I will procure how to be worthy of j'our best 

262 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

thoughts and stud}' how to have patience for an}^ 
neglect from you. 

I understood that 3'ou sent me two kisses bj 
a gentleman. God reward 3'ou for them ; and, 
since 3 our bounty increases, I think it unfit my 
thanks shoukl diminish. I perceive 3'ou Would be 
glad to hear of my kissing of inn-keepers' daugh- 
ters every day, that you might have some excuse 
to do that which nothing but m}' unworthiness 
and misfortune can deserve. Alas ! sweet Olive, 
why should 3'ou go about to afflict me? Know 
that I Hve like a dying man, and one that cannot 
live long without you. My eyes grow weary in 
looking upon anj'thing, as wanting that rest they 
took in the company and the sight of thine, nor 
can I take pleasure in sports, for there is none 
that seems not a monster to m}' understanding 
where Olive is wanting. With thee I only enter- 
tain myself, and were it not for the force of re- 
membering thee, I know not how my life should 
have maintained itself so long. 

You have a great deal of advantage over me in 
this absence ; your two little babes and their af- 
fection, they serve to entertain you, and it teaches 
3'ou to forget me ; yet for pity in this banishment 
and miser}', let me hear of 3'our health and theirs, 
for I assure j'ou it will be no small comfort to 

Eiidymion Porter to his Wife. 263 

rae. Good Olive, let me receive no more quarrel- 
ling letters from you, for I desire nothing but your 
love, it being the only thing that affords me pleas- 
ure in this vile world. Send me word how the 
children do, and whether Cliarles be black or fair, 
and who he is like. But I am sure your nurse 
will swear that he hath ni}' eyes and nose, and 
3'ou may perchance be angrv and say you never 
saw anything so like some brother of yours. I 
would to God I could hear the discourse. I would 
never come to Bullen to kiss my host's daughter, 
although you should entreat me to. 

The Prince visited the Infanta yesterda}', whose 
beauty gave him a just occasion to like her. The 
marriage will be I know not when, but if my de- 
sires to see 3'ou would hasten it I assure 3'ou I 
would make bold to trouble you before the two 
months which you allow me in 3'our last letter. 

I have sent my Lady Villiers a tobacco-box. I 
hope she will esteem it a token of my love, and 
that 3'ou will deliver it with the best grace 3'our 
father taught 3'ou, which was, '' Hold up j'our 
head, Olive." 

Now I am sure 3'ou laugh and think I have for- 
got the just cause I have to be angrj^ at 3'ou, but 
till I receive more kisses from 3'ou I shall not be 
w^ell pleased. I pra3^ yon remember my humble 

2 6 J: Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

service to 1113' Lady/ and tell her that tn}^ Lord 
and I wish 3^ou both here A^ery often. We both 
live very honest, and think of nothing but our 

I thought to have sent 3'on a token of some 
value, but found nn' purse and my good-will could 
not agree, and considering m}' letter would be 
welcome unto 3'ou I leave to do it, onl}' this ring 
which I hope you will esteem, if not for love, I 
think for charity. The conceit is, that it seems 
two, as 3'ou turn it, but is onl3' one. 

God Almighty bless you, and George, and 
Charles, and give 3 ou his grace, and I pra3^ you 
remember to pra3' for him who will ever be 
Your true, loving husband, 

Endymion Porter. 

The JViniJirop Letters. 

One does not look for much sentiment, or any very fer- 
vent expression of it, among the Puritan founders of New 
England ; so that when one finds it in the letters or literature 
of tliese stern and severe people, it is like finding a flower 
in the cleft of a rock. John Winthrop, the first governor 
of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was a man cast in a 

1 "My Lady *' was Kate Buckingham, Tvhose letter to her lord I 
have before quoted. History does not quite testify to the truth 
cf the avowal that thev thought of nothing but their wives. 

Anne JFinthrojJ to her Husband. 265 

somewliat tenderer mould than some of his contemporary 
Puritan bretliren, and his letters to his wife Margaret are 
full of affection, while her replies not only breathe most 
perfect womanly submission, but are as ardent as the ten- 
derest lover could desire. 

I have quoted, as a prefix to some of the letters of John 
Wintlirop and his wife, the following letter from Anne 
WiNTHROP, his mother, to her husband, which is a very 
quaint wifely epistle of the sixteenth century. 

Anne WintJirop to lier Husband, 

Ko date. 

I HAVE received (right dear and well-beloved) 
from 3'ou this week a letter, though short, 3'et 
very sweet, which gave me a livel}' taste of those 
sweet and comfortable words which always, when 
3'ou be present with me, are wont to flow most 
abundantly from 3'our loving heart, — w^hereb}^ I 
perceive that whether you be present with me or 
absent from me, you are ever one towards me, and 
3'our heart remaineth always with me. Wherefore, 
laying up this persuasion of you in mv breast, I 
will most assuredl}', the Lord assisting me b}' his 
grace, bear always the like loving heart unto 3'ou 
again, until such time as I may more fullj' enjoy 
your loving presence ; but in the meantime I will 
remain as one having a great inheritance, or rich 
treasure, and it being b}' force kept from him, or 
he being in a strange country and cannot enjoy 

266 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

it, longeth continually after it, sighing and sor- 
rowing that he is so long bereft of it, yet rejoiceth 
that he hath so great treasure pertaining to him, 
and hopeth that one da}^ the time will come that 
he shall enjo}' it and have the whole benefit of it. 
So I, having a good hope of the time to come, do 
more patiently bear the time present, and I pray 
send me word if 3'ou be in health, and what suc- 
cess you have with j'our letters. 

I sent to Cokynes (?) for the capones, and 
the}' are not yet fat ; as soon as they be ready 
I will send them. I send you this week, hy my 
father's man, a shirt and fiA^e pair of hose. I 
praj^ sell all these ; if ye would anj^ for your own 
wearing I have more a-knitting. I praj^ send me 
a pound of starch by m}' father's man. You maj^ 
yerj' well send my Bible if it be read}'. Thus, 
with m}' very heart}' commendations, I bid you 
farewell, committing you to Almighty God, to 
whom I commend you in my daily prayers, as I 
am sure you do me ; the Lord keep us now and 
ever. Amen. 

Your loving wife, 

Anne Winthrop. 

Je vous rende grace de la bien souvenance que 
vous avez de moi Bible Fran9ois. Je vous prie 
de Tenvoyer en bref par le Roullier. 

John Winthrop to Margaret Tyndal, 267 

If mj^ brother Winthrop be at London, I pray 
forget not to say my ver}' hearty commendations 
unto him. 

John Wintlirop to Margaret Tyndal. 

The following letter is from John Wintlirop to his be- 
trothed wife Margaret Tyndal shortly before their mar- 
riage. She was his third wife, although he was barely 
thirty at the time of his marriage with her. Tliis is as 
miique a love-letter as can be found in the annals of court- 
ship, and its mixture of ardent affection with religious 
devotion, its adaptation of scripture to the language of 
passionate wooing, is not equalled by anything in litera- 

To my best beloved, Mrs. Margaret Tyndal, at Great 
Maplestead, Essex. Grace, mercy, and peace, etc. 

My own beloved spouse, my most sweet 
friend and faithful companion of my pilgrimage, 
the happy and hopeful suppl}' (next Christ Jesus) 
of my greatest losses, I wish thee a most plenti- 
ful increase of all true comfort in the love of 
Christ, with a large and prosperous addition of 
whatsoever happiness the sweet estate of holy 
wedlock, in the kindest societ}^ of a loving hus- 
band, ma}^ afford thee. Being filled with the joy 
of thy love, and wanting opportunity- of more 
famiUar communion with thee, which my heart 

268 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

fervently desires, I am constrained to ease the 
burthen of mj" mind h\ this poor help of m}- 
scribbling pen, being sufficiently assured that, 
although my presence is that which thou desirest, 
yet in the want thereof these lines shall not be 
unfruitful of comfort nnto thee. And now, ni}' 
sweet love, let me awhile solace m^'self in the re- 
membrance of our love, of which this springtime 
of our acquaintance can put forth as j'ct no more 
but the leaves and blossoms, whilst the fruit lies 
wrapped up in the tender bud of hope ; a little 
more patience will disclose this good fruit, and 
bring it to some maturit3\ Let it be our care and 
labour to preserve these hopeful buds from the 
beasts of the field, and from frosts and other in- 
juries of the air, lest our fruit fall off ere it be 
ripe, or lose aught in the beauty and pleasantness 
of it. Let us pluck up such nettles and thorns as 
would defraud our plants of their due nourish- 
ment ; let us prune off superfluous branches ; let 
us not stick at some labour in watering and ma- 
nuring them : the plent\' and goodness of our fruit 
shall recompense us abundantly. Our trees are 
planted in a fruitful soil ; the ground and pattern 
of our love is no other but that between Christ 
and his dear spouse, of whom she speaks as she 
finds him. "- Mv well-beloved is mine and I am 

John Winthrop to Margaret TyndaL 269 

bis." Love was their banqueting-liouse, love was 
their wine, love was their ensign ; love was his 
invitings, love was her faintings ; love was his 
apples, love was her comforts ; love was his em- 
bracings, love was her refreshing ; love made him 
see her, love made her seek him ; love made him 
wed her, love made her follow him ; love made 
him her saviour, love made her his servant. Love 
bred our fellowship, let love continue it, and love 
shall increase it until death dissolve it. . . . 

Now, my dear heart, let me parley a little with 
thee about trifles, for when I am present with thee 
my speech is prejudiced by ihy presence, which 
draws my mind from itself. I suppose now, 
' upon thy uncle's coming, there will be advising 
and counselling of all hands ; and amongst many I 
know there will be some that will be provoking 
thee in these indifferent things, — as matter of 
apparel, fashions, and other circumstances, rather 
to give content to their vain minds, savouring 
too much of the flesh, &c., than to be guided by 
the rule of God's word, which must be the light 
and the Rule. ... I confess that there be some 
ornaments which, for virgins and knight's daugh- 
ters, &c., ma}^ be comely and tolerable, which 
3'et, in so great a change as thine is, may well ad- 
mit a change also. I will meddle with no partic- 

270 Letters of Statesmen, Militanj Men, ete. 

ulars, neither do I think it shall be needful ; thine 
own wisdom and godliness shall teach thee suffi- 
ciently what to do in such things, and the good 
assurance which I have of thy unfeigned love 
towards me makes me persuaded that thou wilt 
have care of ni v contentment, seeing it must be a 
chief stay to thy comfort ; and with all the great 
and sincere desire which I have that there might 
be no discouragement to daunt the edge of my 
affections, while they are trulj' labouring to settle 
and repose themselves in thee, makes me thus 
watchful and jealous of the least occasion that 
Satan might stir up to our discomfort. He that 
is faithful in the least will be faithful in the great- 
est, but I am too fearful I do thee wrong ; I know 
thou wilt not grieve me for trifles. Let me en- 
treat thee (nn^ sweet love) to take all in good 
part, for it is all of my love to thee, and in my 
love I shall requite thee. . . . 

Lastly, for m}' farewell (for thou seest my loth- 
ness to part with thee makes me tedious), take 
courage unto thee, and cheer up thy heart in the 
Lord, for thou knowest that Christ, the best of 
husbands, can never fail thee : he never dies, so 
as there can be no grief at i^artiug ; he never 
changes, so as once beloved and ever the same ; 
his abilit}^ is ever infinite, so as the dowry and 

John Winthrop to Margaret Tynclal. 271 

inheritance of his sons and danghters can never 
be diminished. As for me, a poor worm, dust and 
ashes, a man full of infirmities, subject to all sins, 
changes, and chances which befall the sons of 
men, how should I promise thee anything of my- 
self, or, if I should, w^hat credence couldst thou 
give thereto, seeing God onl}^ is true and ever}' 
man a liar? Yet so far as a man ma}' presume 
upon some experience, I may tell thee that my 
hope is, that such comfort as thou hast already 
conceived of my love towards thee shall (through 
God's blessing) be happily continued ; his grace 
shall be sufficient for me, and his power shall be 
made perfect in my greatest weakness ; only let 
thy godly, kind, and sweet carriage towards me 
be as fuel to the fire, to minister a constant supply 
of meet matter to the confirming and quickening 
of my dull atfections. This is one end why I write 
so much unto thee, that if there should be any 
decay in kindness, &c., through my default and 
slackness hereafter, thou might have some pat- 
terns of our first love by thee, to help the recovery 
of such disease. Yet let our trust be wholly in 
God, and let us constantly follow him by our 
prayers, complaining and moaning unto him of 
our poverty, imperfections, and unworthiness, until 
his fatherly affection break forth upon us, and he 

272 Letters of States7nen, Military Men, etc, 

speak kindly to the hearts of his poor seiTant and 
handmaid, for the full assurance of grace and 
peace through Christ Jesus, to whom I now leaA-e 
thee (my sweet spouse and only beloved) . God 
send us a safe and comfortable meeting on Mon- 
day morning. Farewell. Remember my love and 
duty to m}' Lady, thy good mother, with all kind 
and due salutations to thy uncle E. and all thy 
brothers and sisters. 

Thy husband by promise, 

John "Wixthrop. 
Geoton, where I wish thee, April 4, 1618. 

M3' father and mother salute thee heartily, with 
my Lady and the rest. 

If I had thought my letter would have run to 
half this length I would have made choice of a 
larger paper. 

Margaret Wintlirop to her Husband. 

The next letter is from Margaret Tyndal, now become 
Mrs. Winthrop written in their early wedded life, before 
her husband had departed for the home in the New World. 
It is rather more submissive than the more modern ideas 
of woman's dependence upon man would warrant, but 

Margaret Winthrop to her Husharcd: 273 

Margaret Tyndal was probably bred up in Milton's ideas 
of the relations of the man and woman, •' He for God only, 
she for God in him." 

Groton, Nov. 22, 1627. 

My most sweet Husband, — How dearly wel- 
come thy kind letter was to me I am not able to 
express. The sweetness of it did much refresh 
me. What can be more pleasing to a wife than 
to hear of the welfare of her best beloved, and 
how he is pleased with her poor endeavours? I 
blush to hear m^'self commended, knowing my 
own wants. But it is \o\xv love that conceives 
the best, and makes all things seem better than 
they are. I wish that I may always be pleasing 
to thee, and that those comforts we have in each 
other ma}' be daih' increased, as far as thej' be 
pleasing to God. I will use that speech to thee 
that Abigail did to David ; I will be a servant to 
wash the feet of my lord. I will do any service 
wherein I may please my good husband. I con- 
fess I cannot do enough for thee ; but thou art 
pleased to accept the will for the deed, and rest 

I have many reasons to make me love thee, 

w^hereof I will name two : first, because thou 

lovest God; and secondly, because thou lovest 

me. If these two were wanting, all the rest would 


274 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

be eclipsed. But I must leave this discourse, and 
go about my household affairs. I am a bad house- 
wife to be so long from them ; but I must needs 
borrow a little time to talk with thee, mj sweet 
heart. The term is more than half done. I hope 
thy business draws to an end. It will be but two 
or three weeks before I see thee, though they be 
long ones. God will bring us together in his good 
time ; for which I shall pray. I thank the Lord 
we are all in good health. We are very glad to 
hear so good news of our son Henrj'. The Lord 
make us thankful for all his mercies to us and 
ours. And thus, with m}' mother's and m}" own 
best love to yourself and all the rest, I shall leave 
this scribbling. The weather being cold makes 
me make haste. Farewell, my good husband ; 
the Lord keep thee. 

Your obedient wife, 

Margaret Winthrop. 

John Winthrop to his Wife. 

To my very loving wife, Mus. Wikthrop, at Groton, in 

Childerditch, Jan. 1, 1623. 

My sweet Spouse, — I praise our good God, 
and do heartily rejoice in th}* welfare and of the 

John Winthrop to Ms Wife. 275 

rest of our family, longing greatly to be with 
thee, whom my soul delights in above all earthV 
things ; these times of separation are harsh and 
grievous while they last, but they shall make onr 
meeting more comfortable. It will be Monday at 
night before I can come home. In the meantime 
my heart shall be with thee, as it is always, and 
as th}' love deserves. I am now at Childerditch, 
from whence I cannot go till Saturday, and it will 
be too far to come home ; so as I intend to keep 
the Lord's da}' at Sir Harr}' Mildmaies. 

The news here is of a Parliament, to begin the 
12th of February next. The Earl of Oxford 
came out of the Tower upon Tuesda}^ last. Other 
things I shall relate to thee when we meet ; only 
I thought good to write lest thou shouldst be 
troubled at m}' not coming on Saturday night. 
Thus commending thee and all ours to the gra- 
cious blessing and holy providence of our Heav- 
enly Father, I heartily embrace my sweet wife 
in the arms of my best affections, ever resting. 
Thy faithful husband, 

J. Winthrop. 

276 Letters of Statesmen , Military Men, etc. 

The Same to the Same, 

The following letter was written by John Winthrop 
after he had parted from his family and embarked on 
the " Arbella " for Massachusetts. It seems to have been 
agreed upon between them that they should think of each 
other at "five of the clock Mondays and Fridays." Ko 
lovers could have been more devoted in the first hour of 
troth-plight than these two who had then been twelve 
years wedded. 

To Mrs. Margaret Winthrop, the elder, at Groton. 

From aboard the " Arbella," riding at 
the CowES, March 28, 1630. 

My faithful and dear Wife, — It pleaseth 
God that thou shouldst once again hear from me 
before our departure, and I hope this shall come 
safe to th}^ hands. I know it will be a great 
refreshing to thee. And blessed be his mercy, 
that I can write thee so good news, that we are 
all in very good health, and, having tried our 
ship's entertainment now more than a week, we 
find it agree very well with us. Our boys are 
well and cheerful, and have no mind of home. 
They lie both with me, and sleep as soundly in a 
rug (for we use no sheets here) as ever they did 
at Groton, and so I do myself, I praise God. 
The wind hath been against us this week and 
more ; but this daj^ it is come fair to the north, so 

John Winthrop to his Wife. 277 

as we are preparing, by God's assistance, to set 
sail in the morning. We have only four ships 
ready, and sonae two or three Hollanders go along 
with us. The rest of our fleet, being seven ships, 
will not be ready this sennight. We have spent 
now tw^o Sabbaths on shipboard very comfortably, 
God be praised, and are daily more and more 
encouraged to look for the Lord's presence to go 
along with us. Hemy Kingsbury hath a child or 
two in the '-'- Talbot" sick of the measles, but Hke 
to do well. One of my men had them at Hampton, 
but he was soon well again. We are, in all our 
eleven ships, about seven hundred persons, pas- 
sengers, and two hundred and forty cows, and 
about sixt}' horses. The ship which wxnt from 
Plymouth carried about one hundred and forty 
persons, and the ship which goes from Bristowe 
carrieth about eight}' persons. And now (my 
sweet soul) I must once again take my last fare- 
well of thee in Old England. It goeth very near 
to my heart to leave thee ; but I know to whom I 
have committed thee, even to Him who loves thee 
much better than any husband can, who hath 
taken account of the hairs of thy head, and puts 
all th}' tears in his bottle, who can and (if it be 
for his gior}') will bring us together again with 
peace and comfort. Oh, how it refresheth my 

278 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

heart to think that I shall yet again see thy 
sweet face in the land of the living ! — that lovely 
countenance, that I have so much delighted in, 
and beheld with so great content. I have hitherto 
been so much taken up with business, as I could 
seldom look back to my former happiness ; but 
now, when I shall be at some leisure, I shall not 
avoid the remembrance of thee, nor the grief for 
thy absence. Thou hast thy share with me, but 
I hope the course we have agreed upon will be 
some ease to us both. Mondays and Frida3's, at 
^\e of the clock at night, we shall meet in spirit 
till we meet in person. Yet, if all these hopes 
should fail, blessed be our God that we are 
assured we shall meet one day, if not as husband 
and wife, yet in a better condition. Let that staj^ 
and comfort th}' heart. Neither can the sea 
drown th}' husband, nor enemies destro}', nor any 
adversity deprive thee of thy husband or children. 
Therefore I will onlj^ take thee now and m}' sweet 
children in mine arms, and kiss and embrace you 
all, and so leave you with m}' God. Farewell, 
farew ell. I bless jou all in the name of the Lord 
Jesus. I salute m}' daughter Winth., Matt., Nan., 
and the rest, and all my good neighbours and 
friends. Pray all for us. Farewell. Commend 
my blessing to my son John. I cannot now write 

The Sidney Letters. 279 

to him ; but tell him I have committed thee and 
thine to him. Labour to draw him yet nearer to 
God, and he will be the surer staff of comfort to 
thee. I cannot name the rest of xny good friends, 
but thou canst supph' it. I wrote, a week since, 
to thee and Mr. Leigh, and divers others. 
Thine wheresoever, 


The Sidney Letters. 

One of the most interesting families in English history 
is the SiD-VEY family, of which two such rare characters 
as Pliilip Sidney, in Elizabeth's reign, and Algernon Sid- 
ney, in the reign of Charles I., are scions. The first illus- 
trious member of this house was Sir Henry Sidney, the 
father of Philip, a broad-minded and noble-hearted gentle- 
man, a patron of literature and interested in the advance- 
ment of all that was good for his country and for mankind. 
His sons were the famous Sir Philip Sidney, and Kobert, a 
younger son, whose son Robert became the second Earl of 
Leicester, and the father of Algernon Sidney. This Rob- 
ert, the second Earl of Leicester, married Dorothy Percy, 
the eldest daughter of the Earl of Northumberland. Their 
union seems to have been from first to last a profoundly 
happy one. The Earl outlived his wife several years, and 
in his journal, which he kept regularly, he gives the 
following account of her death and her last farewell to 
him : — 

'■ On Saturday, the 20th of August, 1659, between six 

280 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

and seven o'clock in the morning, my wife sent one of her 
women, who came in some haste, to tell me she desired to 
speak to me. I was not yet out of bed, but I put on my 
clothes as fast as I could, and came and kneeled by her 
bedside, where she liad caused herself to be raised, and sat 
up, being stayed by one of her women. I took her by the 
liand and kissed it. She inclined her face toward me, and 
said, ' My dearest heart, I find that I must very quickly 
leave you, but before I die I desire to say a few words unto 
you, and many I cannot say. Love God above all; fear 
liim and serve him. My love has been great and constant 
unto you,' — then she wept gently, — 'and I beseech you 
pardon my anger, my angry words, my passions, and what- 
soever wlierein I have oifended you, even all my faults 
and failings towards you. Pray for me in this my weak 
estate and near approach of death. Commend me to my 
dear boy. I should have been glad to see him before I 
die. . . . Keep all your promises, and trouble not yourself 
for me. I pray God you may live happily when I am 
gone, and that God will be pleased to take you at that 
time when he shall find it best for you. Fear God, love 
God, serve God. Remember me and love my memory. 
Think continually upon eternity. I can say no more, so, 
my dear lord, farewell.' Then, inclining her face to mine 
as well as she could, and gently pressing my hand, she said, 
*God bless you, and now lay me down to rise no more.' " 

Some of Lady Dorothy's letters to her husband and to 
her son, Algernon Sidney, are preserved among the papers 
of the Sidney family. The following, which is written in 
the sixteenth year of their wedded life, is evidently in an- 
swer to a letter in which the Earl has reproved her for 
complaining that his letters did not reach her promptly. 

Lady Dorothy Sidney to her Husband, 281 

Lady Dorothy Sidney to lier Husband. 

Penshurst, Feb. 7, 1636. 

My dearest Heart, — For m}^ exceptions to 
your silence I humblj' ask 3'our pardon, for since 
I have received three letters from 3^00, — the one 
hy Mr. Auger, who I have not yet seen, but he 
writes to me with much civilit}^ and I hear that 
he speaks of you with all the honour, estimation, 
and affection that can be, which should make him 
as welcome to me as any of my brothers. Two 
letters more have I had since his arrival ; but 
that which was first written came last to my 
hands, for vay Lord of Holland sent it to me 3'es- 
terday, and the other, which was dated the 27th 
Jan., w^as received by me the 4th of Feb. 

The}' all brought such contentment to me as 
nothing but 3'our own person can give me a jo}' 
bej'ond it ; and though you reproach me for chid- 
ing, yet I hope the consideration of the cause 
shall free me from any further punishment than 
the gentle rebuke you have already given me. 

B}^ the two letters here enclosed you will find 
a change from w^hat I heretofore declared to 
3'ou ; and besides the good success which is now 
expected of your negotiations, I find there is a 

282 Letters of Statesmen^ Military Men, etc. 

general applause of 3^our proceedings, which is no 
small delight to me and I hope will be a great 
encouragement to you ; for though I confess 
your labours to be very great, 3'et I trust the 
conclusion will be verj^ good, and then all the 
pains will be remembered with pleasure and ad- 
vantage to yon. ... I hope the three hundred 
pounds 3'ou commanded shall be returned to 3'ou 
at the time appointed, and when more is received 
it shall be disposed of according to your direc- 

The present, also, for the Queen of France I 
will be ver3' careful to provide ; but it cannot be 
handsome for that proportion of mone3' which 
3^ou do mention ; for those bone laces, if they be 
good, are dear, and -I will send of the best, for 
the honour of the nation and m3' own credit. 

You persuade m3' going to London, and there 
I shall play the ill huswife, which I perceive 3'ou 
are content to suffer rather than I shall remain in 
this solitariness ; and 3'et m3' intention is now to- 
remain till the beginning of next month, unless 
Mr. Auger's going awaA' cany me up sooner. 
All the children I will leave here, according to 
3'our advice ; and if you can spare Daniel, I de- 
sire that 3'ou will send him to me for the time of 
m3' being in London. 

Earl of Sunderland to his Wife. 283 

Mr. Seladine comes in with 3'our letter, whom 
I am engaged to entertain a httle ; besides, it is 
supper-time, or else I should bestow one side of 
this paper in making love to you ; and since I 
may with modesty express it^ I will say that if it he 
love to think on you sleeping and waking., to dis- 
course on nothing with pleasure hut what concerns 
you., to wish myself every hour with you\ and to 
pray for you with as much devotion as for my own 
soul, then certainly it may he said I am in love ; 
and this is all you shall hear at this time from 

Dorothy Leicester. 

The Earl of Sunderland to Lady Dorothy^ his Wfe. 

The daugliter of Lady Dorothy Sidney, who wrote the 
beautiful letter given above, also named Dorothy, was 
married to Robert Spenser, Earl of Sunderland. She had 
been wooed by Edmund Waller in his verses, as the ^' in-^ 
comparable Saccharissa,'' and on the occasion of her mar- 
riage with Spenser, the poet wrote her sister, Lady Lucy 
Sidney, a letter which is famous for its wit and playful 
irony. In it he says : — 

"May my Lady Dorothy, if we may yet call her so, 
suffer as much, and have the like passion for this young 
lord whom she has preferred to the rest of mankind, as 
others have had for her. And may his love, before the 

284 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

year go about, make her taste the first curse imposed on 
niankmd, the i)ain of becoming a mother. May lier first- 
born be none of her own sex, nor so like her, but that he 
may resemble her lord as much as herself. May she, that 
always affected silence and retirement, have the house 
filled with the noise and number of her children, and here- 
after of her grandchildren, and then may she arrive at tliat 
great curse, so much declined by fair ladies, old age ; may 
she live to be very old, and yet seem young, — be told so by 
her glass, yet have no aches to inform her of the truth; 
and when she shall appear to be mortal, may her lord not 
mourn for her, but go hand in hand with her to that place 
where we are told there is neither marrying nor giving in 
marriage, so that, being there divorced, we may all have 
an equal interest in her again. My revenge being immor- 
tal, I wish all this may befall her posterity to the world's 

ends and afterwards. 

"Edmund Waller." 

The happiness of Lady Dorothy and her husband was 
of brief duration! The Earl of Sunderland was killed in 
the battle of ^S'ewbury, fighting for a cause in which he felt 
his honour more than his heart was enlisted. 

The letter which follows was written at Oxford, then the 
headquarters of King Charles, four days before the battle 
in which the Earl met his death. 

Oxford, Sept. 16, 1643. 
My dearest Heart, — Since I wrote 3^011 last 
from Sulbej^ we had some hopes one day to fight 
with m}^ Lord of Essex's arm}', we receiving cer- 
tain intelligence of his being in a field convenient 
enougli, called Riffle field, toward which we ad- 

Earl of Sunderland to his Wife, 285 

vaneed with all possible speed. Upon which he 
returned with the bod}' of his army to Tewksbnrj, 
where, b}' the advantage of the bridge, he was 
able to make good his quarter with five hundred 
men against twent}^ thousand. So that though 
we were at so near a distance as that we could 
have been with him in two hours, his quarter be- 
ing so strong, it was resolved on Thursda}'^ that 
we, seeing for the present he would not fight with 
us, we should endeavour to force him to it b}' cut- 
ting off his provisions ; for which purpose the best 
waj^ was for the body of our arm}' to go back to 
Everholme, and for our horse to distress him. 
Upon w^hich I and many others resolved to come 
for a few days hither, there being no possibility 
of fighting very suddenly, where w^e arrived very 
late on Thursday night. As soon as I came I 
went to your father's, w^here I found AUibone, 
with whose face I was better pleased than with 
any of the ladies here. This expression is so 
much a bolder thing than charging my Lord 
Essex, that should the letter miscarry, and come 
to the knowledge of our dames, I should, by hav- 
ing my eyes scratched out, be cleared of coming 
away from the army from fear, where, if I had 
stayed, it is odds I should not have lost more 
than one. 

285 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

Last night very gooc] news came to court, that 
we, A'esterclaj' morning, fell upon a horse quarter 
of the enemy's and cut oif a regiment, and that 
my Lord of Newcastle hath killed and taken pris- 
oners two whole regiment of horse and foot that 
issued out of Hull, which place he hath great 
hope to take ere long. B3' the same messenger 
last night the King sent the Queen word that he 
would come hither Monday or Tuesday, upon one 
of which days, if he alter not his intention, I shall 
not fail to return to the army. I am afraid our 
dela}^ before Gloucester has hindered us from 
making an end of the war this 3'ear, which noth- 
ing could keep us from doing if we had a month's 
more time, which we lost there, for we were 
never in a more prosperous condition ; and yet 
the division does not at all diminish, especially 
between 142 and 412,^ bj^ which we receive preju- 
dice. I never saw the King use anybody with 
greater neglect than 100; and we say he is not 
used much better by the Queen. 

Mrs. Jermyn met my Lord Jermyn, with whom 
I came, at Woodstock with a coach, who told me 
she would write to aou ; which I hope she has 
done, for since I came here I have seen no crea- 

1 These figures are ciphers to denote proper names which 
it was not politic to write in full. 

Earl of Sunderland to his Wife. 287 

tiire but 3'our father and m}' uncle, so that I am 
altogether ignorant of the intrigue of this place. 
Before I go hence I hope somebody ^viil come 
from 3'ou ; however, I shall leaA^e a letter here 
for you. I have taken the best care I can of my 
economical affairs. 1 am afraid I shall not be 
able to get you a better house, — everybod}' thinks 
me mad for speaking about it. Pray bless Pop- 
pet^ for me, and tell her I would have writ to her, 
but that, upon mature deliberation, I found it to 
be uncivil to return an answer to a lad}' in an- 
other character [writing] than her own, which I 
am not 3'et learned enough to do. 

I cannot, hj walking m}' chamber, call to mind 
an3'thing to set down here, and really I have 
made you no small compliment in writing you this 
much, for I have so great a cold that I cannot do 
anything but sneeze, and mine eyes do nothing 
but water all the while I am in this posture of 
hanging down my head. 

I ])eseech you to present his service to my lad}^, 
who is most passionately and perfectlj^ yours, 


1 The Earl's Utile daughter. 

288 Letters of Statesmen^ Military Men, etc. 

Lord and Lady Russell 

The love of Lady Rachel Russell for her husband, 
their happy wedded life and her devotion to him unto death, 
are famous even in the annals of woman's devotion. Guizot 
in his U Amour dans le Manage has taken Lady Russell's 
marriage as a type of the best and finest union, and cites 
her letters to her husband as a proof that the most roman- 
tic sentiment may be preserved in marriage when what is 
usually considered the age of romance is past. 

Before her marriage with Lord Russell (then simply Mr. 
William Russell) Lady Rachel had been married to Lord 
Vaughan, and was left, when still young, a widow with 
large fortune. The estate of Stratton, often referred to in 
their letters, was Lady Vaughan's own estate, which had 
become hers through her first marriage. But whatever 
the advantage of wealth and position on Lady Vaughan's 
part, the marriage was undoubtedly a love-match on both 
sides. It would be difficult to find any record of affection 
more reciprocal, or two hearts more fully at one than these 
two. After twelve years of wedlock she ends one of her 
letters thus : " I have nothing new to write you, but I know, 
as certainly as I live, that I liave been for twelve years as 
passionate a lover as ever woman was, and hope to be so 
one twelve years more, happy still and entirely yours." 

For more than twelve years this perfect union continued 
without clouds. Lord Russell's great abilities, his patriot- 
ism, his unblemished purity of character, gave him a 
high place in public affairs. He was a devoted servant 
of King Charles IL but he was also a devoted Protestant, 
and as such inclined to oppose the succession of James, 

Lord and Lady Russell. 289 

the Duke of York, fearing that he was too much in sym- 
pathy with Catholics for the safety of the government. 
Tlirough this fear, Russell was drawn into a cabal with 
five others, — men so differing in their motives and char- 
acter that they form a group unique enough to be noted 
here. They were the Duke of Monmouth, the Earl of 
Essex, Algernon Sidney, Lord Howard, John Hampden (a 
grandson of the great Hampden of Cromwell's time), and 
Lord Russell. 

The most treasonable among them was Monmouth, a 
son of Charles IL by Lucy Waters, who aspired to the 
crown and was beheaded for treason in the following 
feign of James II. Sidney and Essex were republicans 
and desired a new form of government; while Russell 
and Hampden entered into no plots against the crown 
or the state, but simply advocated a reform of some griev- 
ances and wished to make sure that the succession was 
not Catholic in its tendencies. 

As soon as suspicion was aroused against the party, the 
dastardly Howard turned state's evidence and so escaped 
all penalty. Monmouth was warned of his danger on ac- 
count of his relationship to the king, and the Duchess of 
Monmouth herself went to Charles II. to implore him to 
spare his son. This he easily promised ; but as the Stuart 
promises were not held at high value, it was thought best 
that Monmouth should seek safety by flight to the Conti- 
nent. The event proved his wisdom, for when the conspira- 
tors were arrested the Duchess of Monmouth's apartments 
were the first to be entered and searched. Essex, who was 
a friend of Russell's, was found with his throat cut in prison 
shortly after his arrest, and is supposed to have committed 
suicide. Hampden, strangely enough, was let off with a 

290 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

fine of £40,000; and of the six, only Algernon Sidney and 
Lord Russell, the two noblest of them all, suffered death 
on the scaffold. 

It was in these last days, when her husband was on 
trial for his life, that Lady Russell's character showed its 
most heroic features. Every effort which she could make 
for his safety and defence she made with a clear-headed- 
ness and a calmness which kept all useless emotion under 
control. When he was put on trial Russell asked the 
judge: — 

"Am I permitted a secretary, my lord, to set down what 
I sliall say 1 " 

The judge answered, " If any of your servants are 
present they may act in that office." 

*^My wife is here," answered Russell, "and will do it." 
A thrill ran through the whole court as, at the assent of 
the judge. Lady Russell came quietly forward and took 
the place beside her husband. She was a daughter of 
Southampton, who had risked his life in the king's service 
when the Cromwell party was in power, and had many 
times filled Charles's empty pockets with supplies of Eng- 
lish gold when the young king was in exile and in poverty. 
Even the sternest royalists were moved to pity by the sight 
of this daughter of a loyal house, as she sat quietly day 
after day beside her husband, doing the work of his secre- 
tary with an ability that made her indispensable to him. 
But no efforts, either personal or legal, could save Russell. 
He himself made some vain appeals and concessions, urged 
thereto, as he said, not by fear of death, but to satisfy his 
noble wife, and leave her with the feeling that all possible 
effort had been made to save him. 

When sentence was passed and the day of execution 
fixed, Lady Russell took leave of him in prison the night 

Loi\i and Lady Russell. 291 

before his death. Each of them controlled all emotion, 
that the other might not be grieved or disturbed by the 
sight of tears or lamentations. When the time came to 
part, they clasped each other in a long, close embrace, and 
separated without the utterance of a word or the shed- 
ding of a tear. Then Lady Russell went away into her 
long and lonely widowhood, in which her memories of her 
husband and her hope of sometime joining him in a blessed 
future were her chief comforts. One outburst of the heart 
in one of her letters is most touchingly eloquent. She 
writes : — 

" My heart mourns too sadly, I fear, and cannot be com- 
forted, because I have not the dear companion and sharer 
of my joys and sorrows. I want him to walk with, to talk 
with, to eat and sleep with. All these things are now irk- 
some to me, the day unwelcome, the night so too ; all com- 
pany and meals I would avoid if it might be. Yet all this 
is, that I enjoy not the world in my own way, and this 
hinders my comfort. AYhen I see my children I remember 
the pleasure he took in them and this makes my heart 
shrink. Can I regret his quitting a lesser good for a big- 
ger? Oh, if I did steadfastly believe, I could not be so 
dejected, for I will not injure myself to say, I offer my 
mind any inferior consolation to supply his loss." 

Lady Russeirs letters would in no way be remarkable 
if they were not written so directly from the heart. She 
speaks sometimes apologetically of her powers as a letter- 
writer, but the simple feeling with which she writes lends 
her often an eloquence which is better than that of more 
famous writers, and the tender domestic atmospJiere in 
which she writes is very beautiful. I add to the fol- 
lowing letters by Lady Russell one little note from her 
husband, written when he was away for a few days on 

292 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

business, which expresses a tenderness as ardent as her 
letters reveal for him. 

It will be noticed that Lady RusseU's early letters to 
her husband are signed " R. Vaughan." She retained this 
signature till her husband gained his title, and thenceforth 
signed herself " Russell." 

Lord Russell to Lady Russell^ written ten Years after 

Basing, Feb. 8, 1679. 

I AM stole from a great many gentlemen in the 
drawing-room at Basing for a moment, to tell my 
dearest I have thought of her being here the last 
time, and wished for her a thousand times ; but 
in vain, alas, for I am just going now to Stratton 
and want the chariot, and my dearest dear in it. 
I hope to be with you on Saturday. We have 
had a very troublesome journej^ of it, and insig- 
nificant enough b}' the fairness and excess of 
civility of somebod}^ but more of that when I 
see 3'OU. I long for that time, and am, more than 
you can imagine, -^ 

^^^^ EUSSELL. 

Lady Russell to Lord Russell. 

TiCHFiELD, Aug. 22, 1675. 
I WRITE this to m}^ dear Mr. Russell, because I 
love to be busied in either speaking of him or 
to him, but the pretence I take is lest the letter 

Lady Bussell to Lord Russell. 293 

I wrote j'esterda}' should miscarry ; so this may 
again inform you at London, that 3'our coach 
shall be at Harford Bridge (if God permit) upon 
Thursday, to wait 3'our coming, and on Saturday 
I hope to be at Stratton and m}' sister also. This 
da}^ she resolved it, so her coach will bring us all. 
... It is an inexpressible joy to consider I shall 
see the person in the world I most and onlj' long 
to be with, before another week is past. I should 
condemn my sense of this happiness as weak and 
pitiful if I could tell it to you. No, my best life, 
I can say little, but think all 3'ou can, and you 
cannot think too much. My heart makes it all 
good. I perfectly know my infinite obligations 
to Mr. Russell, and in it is the delight of her life, 
who is as much yours as j'ou desire she should 

Rachel Yaughan. 

The Same to the Same, 

London, Sept. 6, 1680. 
My girls and I being just risen from dinner, 
Miss Rachel followed me into my chamber, and 
seeing me take pen and ink asked me what I was 
going to do. I told her I was going to write to 
her papa. " So will I," said she, " and while you 
write I will think what I have to say," and truly, 

294 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

before I could write one word, she came and told 
me she had done. So I set down her words, and 
she is hard at the business, as I am not, one would 
conclude, by the pertinence of this beginning, but 
m}^ dear man has taken me for better or worse in 
all conditions, and knows my soul to him. So 
expressions are but a pleasure to m3-self, not to 
him who believes better things of me than my ill 
rhetoric will induce him to by mj' words. 

To this minute I am not one jot wiser as to 
intelligence (whatever other improvements m}^ 
study has made me), but I hope this afternoon's 
conversation will better me that ^vaj. Lady 
Shaftesbury sends me word if her lord continues 
as well as he was this morning I shall see her, 
and ni}' sister was visiting there 3'esterday. I 
shall suck the hone}' from them all, if the}' be 
communicative. . . . 

Later. I have stayed till Mr. Cheke came in, 
and he helps me to nothing but a few half-crowns, 
I expect, at backgammon. Unless I let him read 
my letter he vows he would tell me no news, if 
he knew any, and doubting this is not worth his 
perusal I hasten to shut it np. Lord Shaftesbury 
was alone, so his lady came not. Your birds came 
safe to feed us to-morrow. 

I am yours, my dear love, 

R. Russell. 

Lady Russell to Lord BussclL 295 

The Same to the Same. 

Strattox, Sept. 30, 1681. 

To see an3'body preparing and taking their 
way to see what I long to do a thousand times 
more than the}', uiakes me not endure to suffer 
their going without saying something to m}' best 
life, though it is a kind of anticipating m}' joy 
when we shall meet, to allow myself so much be- 
fore that time ; but I confess I feel a great deal 
that although I left London with great reluctance 
(as it is easy to persuade men that a woman does), 
yet I am not like to leave Stratton with greater. 

They will tell you how well I got hither, and 
how well I found our dear treasure here. Your 
boy will please 3'ou ; you will, I think, find him 
improved, though I tell you so beforehand. Thej^ 
fancy he wanted you, for, as soon as I alighted, 
he followed, calling ''Papa;" but I suppose it 
is the word he has most command of, so was not 
disobliged by the little fellow. The girls were 
fine in remembrance of the happy 29th of Sept. 
[Lord Russell's birthday], and we drank your 
health after a red-deer pie, and at night your girls 
and I supped on a sack-posset ; na}'. Master 
[their son] would have his share, and for haste 
burnt his fingers in the posset, but he does but 
rub his hands for it. 

296 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

It is the most glorious weather that ever was 
seen. The coach shall meet you at the cabbage- 
garden ; it will be there by eight or a little after, 
although I hardh^ guess 3'ou will be there so soon, 
day breaks so late, and indeed the mornings are 
so mist}" it is not wholesome to be in the air so 
earl}'. I do propose going to m}' neighbour 
Worslej' to-day. 

I would fain be telling my dear heart more 
things, — anj'thing to be in a kind of talk with 
him, — but I believe Spenser stays for me to de- 
spatch this ; he was willing to go earl}', but this 
writing to 3'ou was to be the delight of this morn- 
ing and the support of the day. It is j^erformed 
in bed, thj' pillow at mj back, where th}' dear 
head shall lie, I hope, to-morrow night, and many 
more, I trust in his mercy, notwithstanding all 
our enemies or evil-wishers. Love, and be will- 
ing to be loved by, thy 

R. Russell. 

The Dule of Marlborough to the Duchess. 

The greatest mihtary leader of England in the eighteenth 
century, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, was 
under the domination of a ruler more powerful than he. 
For years the Duchess of Marlborough, imperious, bril- 
liant, ambitious, was the most powerful person in Eng- 

Dithe of Marlborough to the Duchess. 297 

land, ruling even the queen by the ascendancy she had 
gained through their long friendship. 

It is difficult to see now how she held such power, with 
so little that seems attractive, and with nothing that is 
amiable, in her character ; but that she must have been in 
youth a woman capable of attaching others to her with 
hooks of steel is incontrovertible. Marlborough married 
her for love, and loved her absolutely. His affection 
breaks through all his letters to her. He writes, '* I am 
heart and soul yours/' " I can have no hapi)iness till I 
am with you ; " and his fear of her displeasure or tempers 
comes in such plainiive bursts as *' I am never so happy as 
when I think you are kind." His motive of life was to 
please her, and his ambition to conquer all fields that were 
before him, that he might settle down at home with " the 
blessing of living quietly with her my soul longs for.'* 

Perhaps fortunately for this much-wished-for peace, the 
Duke died long before the Duchess, who lived to great old 
age ; a virago whose last days remind us not a little of those 
of the Countess of Shrewsbury,^ in Elizabeth's reign, who 
spent her last days not only at variance with those about 
her, but even with her nearest of kin, and who died exe- 
crated by those to whom she should have been an object 
of reverence and love. 

Hague, April 23, 1706. 
I AM very uneasy at not having beard from you 
since my being in this countr}' ; and, the wind con- 
tinuing in the east, I am afraid I shall not have 
the satisfaction of receiving any letter from my 

1 See letters to Countess of Shrewsbury, p. 242. 

298 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

dearest soul before I leave this place, which will 
be the next week. I am j'et in uncertainty where 
I shall serve this summer, for Cadogan is not 3'et 
returned from Hanover ; but b}^ a letter I have 
received from the King of Denmark, and that 
I send by this post to Lord Treasurer, I see that I 
must not depend upon anj^ of the Danish troops ; 
so that if Hanover should persist in doing the 
same, though these people should consent to what 
I propose, it will not be in our power to find the 
troops necessar}', which gives me, as 3'ou may 
imagine, a good deal of vexation. I hope m}" 
next will let 3'ou know the certaintj' of what I 
shall be able to do. 

My dearest soul, my desire of being with 3'ou 
is so great that I am not able to express the im- 
patience I am in to have this campaign over. I 
pra3^ God it nia3' be so happy that there may be 
no more occasion of my coming, but that I maj- 
ever sta3^ with 3'ou, m3' dearest soul. 

The Same to the Same, icritien just after the Battle 
of Ramillies. 
Ramillies, Monday, May 24, 11 o'clock, 1706. 
I DID not tell m3' dearest soul the design I had 
of engaging the enem3^ if possible, to a battle, 

Duke of Marlborough to the Duchess. 299 

fearing the concern she has for me might make 
her uneasy ; but I can now give her the satisfac- 
tion of letting her know that on Sunday last we 
fought, and that God Ahuighty has been pleased 
to give us a victory. I must leave the particu- 
lars to this bearer, Colonel Richards, for, having 
been on horseback all Sunday, and after the bat- 
tle marching all night, my head aches to that 
degree that it is ver}' iineas}' to me to write. 
Poor Bingfield, holding my stirrup for me and 
helping me on horseback, was killed. I am told 
that he leaves his wife and mother in a poor con- 
dition. I can't write to any of my children, so 
3'ou will let them know I am well, and that I 
desire the}' will thank God for preserving me. 
And pra}' give my duty to the Queen, and let her 
know the truth of m}' heart, that the greatest 
pleasure I have in this success is, that it may be 
a great service to her affairs ; for I am sincerely 
sensible of all her goodness to me and mine. 
VYf\\ believe me when I assure yon that I love 
you more than I can express. 

300 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

The Letters of Mr. and Mrs. John Adams, 

Especially interesting to Americans are the letters of 
John Adams and his wife, which Avere written when the 
American conflict began which made the United States 
a nation, and in the course of which correspondence we 
may trace many of the events that attended the formation 
of the young nation. Mrs. Adams's letters have been 
deservedly famous among her countrywomen. They are 
homely, sensible, and not without the eloquence of the 
heart. She was a tower of strength to her husband, and 
deserved the name of Portia he seems to have given her, 
and which she often signs herself in writing to him. Like 
Brutus's Portia, she was well fathered and well husbanded, 
and has much of the stuff of the Roman matron in her 
composition. The letters of the pair breathe little of the 
romance of passion, but they are among ihe best specimens 
of letters which spring from a union based on harmony of 
opinion and highest esteem for each other's virtues, — a 
union of real friendship as well as of love, — and most of 
their letters appropriately begin, " My dearest fi leud." 

John Adams to his Wife. 

Ppiiladelphia, 22 May, 1776. 
When a man is seated in the midst of forty 
people, some of whom are talking and others 
whispering, it is not eas}' to think what is proper 
to write. I shall send you the neAvspapers, which 
will inform you of public affairs and the particular 
bickerings of parties in this colony. I am happy 

John Adams to his Wife, 301 

to learn from your letter that a flame is at last 
raised among the people for the fortification of 
the harbour. Whether Nantasket or Point Alder- 
ton would be proper posts to be taken, I can't 
say. But I would fortify ever}' place which is 
proper, and which cannon could be obtained for. 
Generals Gates and Mifflin are now here. Gen- 
eral Washington will be here to-morrow, when w^e 
shall consult and deliberate concerning the opera- 
tions of the ensuing campaign. 

We have dismal accounts from Europe of the 
preparations against us. Tliis summer will be 
very important to us. We shall have a severe 
trial of our patience, fortitude, and perseverance. 
But I hope we shall do valianth' and tread down 
our enemies. 

I have some thoughts of petitioning the Gen- 
eral Court for leave to bring my family here. I 
am a lonely, forlorn creature here. It used to be 
some comfort to me that I had a servant and 
some horses. They composed a soil of family 
for me. But now there is not one creature here 
that I seem to have any kind of relation to. It 
is a cruel reflection, which very often comes across 
me, that I should be separated so far from those 
babes whose education and welfare lie so near 
m}^ heart. But greater misfortunes than these 
must not divert us from superior duties. 

302 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

Your sentiments of the duties we owe to our 
country are such as become the best of women 
and the best of men. Among all the disappoint- 
ments and perplexities which have fallen to my 
share in life, nothing has contributed so much to 
support my mind as the choice blessing of a wife, 
whose eapacit}' enabled her to comprehend, and 
whose pure virtue obliged her to approve, the 
views of her husband. This has been the cheer- 
ing consolation of m}' heart in my most solitarj', 
gloomy, and disconsolate hours. In this remote 
situation I am deprived in a great measure of 
this comfort. Yet I read and read again yonr 
charming letters, and the}' serve me, in some faint - 
degree, as a substitute for the company and con- 
versation of the writer. I want to take a walk 
with you in the garden, to go over to the common, 
the plain, the meadow. I want to take Charles 
in one hand and Tom in the other, and walk with 
you. Abb}' on your right hand and John upon my 
left, to view the cornfields, the orchards, &c. 

Alas, poor imagination ! how faintly and im- 
perfectly do you supply the want of originality 
and reality. But instead of these pleasing scenes 
of domestic life, I hope you will not be disturbed 
with the alarms of war. I hope, yet I fear. 

Mrs. Adams to her Husband. 

Mrs. Adams to her Husband. 

23 December, 1782. 
My dearest Friend, — I have omitted writing 
b}' the last opportunity to Holland, because I had 
but small faith in the designs of the owners or 
passengers, and I had just written so largely by a 
vessel bound to France, that I had nothing new 
to saj'. There are few occurrences in this north- 
ern climate at this season of the 3'ear to divert or 
entertain you, and in the domestic way should I 
draw you the picture of ni}' heart it would be 
what I hope you would still love though it con- 
tained nothing new. The early possession 3'ou 
obtained there, and the absolute power you have 
obtained over it, leaves not the smallest space 
unoccupied. I look back to the earh' days of our 
acquaintance and friendship as to the days of 
love and innocence, and, with an indescribable 
pleasure, I have seen near a score of years roll 
over our heads wdth an affection heightened and 
improved b}' time, nor have the drear}' 3'ears of 
absence in the smallest degree effaced from my 
mind the image of the dear untitled man to whom 
I gave my heart. I cannot sometimes refrain 
considering the honours with w^hich he is invested 
as badges of m}' unhappiness. The unbounded 

304 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

confidence I have in your attachment to me and 
to the dear pledges of our affection, has soothed 
the solitary hours and rendered j'our absence more 
supportable, for had I loved you with the same* 
affection, it must have been misery to have 
doubted. Yet a cruel world too often injures my 
feelings by wondering how a person, possessed of 
domestic attachments, can sacrifice them by ab- 
senting himself for 3'ears. 

" If you had known," said a person to me the 
other da}^, ''that Mr. Adams would have re- 
mained so long abroad, would you have consented 
that he should have gone ? " I recollected mj'self 
a moment, and then spoke the real dictates of my 
heart. ''If I had known, sir, that Mr. Adams 
could have effected what he has done, I would 
not only have submitted to the absence I have 
endured, painful as it has been, but I would not 
have opposed it even though three 3'ears more 
should be added to the number (which Heaven 
avert) . I feel a pleasure in being able to sacri- 
fice my selfish passions to the general good, and 
in imitating the example which has taught me to 
consider myself and familj' but as the small dust 
in the balance when compared with the great 

It is now, m}' dear friend, a long, long time 

Warren Hastings to his Wife. 305 

since I have had a line from you. Tlie Me o * 
Gibraltar leads me to fear that a peace is far 
distant, and that I shall see you — God only 
knows when. I shall sa}^ little about my former 
request ; not that mj' desire is less, but, before 
this can reach 30U, 'tis probable I may receive 
3'our opinion : if in favour of my coming to 3'ou, 
1 shall have no occasion to urge it further ; if 
against it, I will not embarrass you by again re- 
questing it. I will endeavour to sit down and 
consider it as the portion allotted to me. 

Adieu, m}' dear friend. Why is it that I hear so 
seldom from m}' dear John? But one letter have 
I ever received from him since he arrived in 
Petersburg. I wrote him b}' the last opportunity. 
Ever remember me, as I do you, with all the ten- 
derness which it is possible for one object to feel 
for another, which no time can obliterate, no 
distance alter, but which is always the same in the 
bosom of 


Letter of Warren Hastings to his Wfe, 

To those wlio have been interested in the history of 

Warren Hastings as Governor-General of India, this letter 

to his wife will be doubly interesting as showing the man 

more intimately than we can find liim in any record of his 


306 Letters of Statesmen ^ MilitaQy Men, etc, 

public life, as we see it through the mist of accusation 
and defence that arises from his famous trial, made more 
famous by the triple eloquence of Burke, Eox, and Sheri- 
dan, all directed against him. 

Hastings's life with his wife, who was always his ** beloved 
Marian," was a peculiarly happy one, and their union more 
perfect than is usual in a world whose best harmony is 
likely to be full of discords. Their married life was pre- 
ceded by what is called, in novels and plays, '' a romance." 
When Hastings left England for India, to take his place 
as member of the council at Madras, he found, as fellow- 
passengers on board his ship, a Baron Imhoff and his wife, 
also on their way to India. Imholf was a German portrait- 
painter in needy circumstances, who hoped to find patron- 
age and money at Madras. No evidence is other than that 
he was a base fellow unworthy of respect and loyalty. 
That Madame Imhoff was worthy of a good man's affec- 
tion is proved by the after devotion and life-long love she 
won from such a man as Hastings. The disparity between 
the married pair and the unhappiness of the wife were ap- 
parent. Hastings became interested in JMadame Imhoff, 
and finally, after he had been ill during the voyage and 
had recovered under her tender nursing, he found himself 
deeply in love with her. Perfect frankness seems to have 
prevailed between himself and Imhoff, and an arrangement 
was made between them that the unvalued wife should 
apply for a divorce in a German court, and on receiving 
her freedom should become the wife of Hastings. The 
application for divorce was made, Imhoff favouring it; 
after five years of waiting and litigation the marriage was 
annulled ; Madame Imhoff was free. Hastings at once 
married her, and the Baron left India a much richer man 
than he could have hoped to become by portrait-painting. 

Warren Hastings to his Wife. 307 

Mrs Hastings had two cliildren by her first marriage, 
whom Hastings adopted, and who seem to have loved him 
as a father. On his death, at an advanced age, the Baron- 
ess Charles Imhoff, wife of one of his adopted children, 
attended him like a daughter and mourned his loss as if 
she had lost a parent by tie of blood rather than adoption. 
In every way the marriage formed with the neglected and 
misprized wife of Imhoff was fruitful of happiness to all 
concerned. The letter following was written to Mrs. 
Hastings after she had left him to go to England in 1784, 
where he joined her a year later, to enter upon the anx- 
ieties of a trial which clouded him for many years with 
obloquy from which he emerged so completely that the 
House which impeached him, and from whose decision he 
appealed to the Lords, rose uncovered to receive him when 
he appeared before them, twenty years after their decision 
had been given against him. 

Warren Hastings to Ids Wife. 

Benares, Oct. 1, 1784. 
My dearest Marian, — I am indeed a fortu- 
nate man, and am tempted to adopt the term even 
to superstition ; and no wonder, for the belief 
has seized others long since, and universall}'. 
Last night, at about nine o'clock. Major Sands 
brought me the news of Pipps's arrival at Cal- 
cutta, and (ma}' God bless them both for it !) 
a short but blessed letter from j'ou, dated the 
loth of Ma}', the day of your departure from St. 

308 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

Helena, and written on board the "Atlas." It 
tells me only that 3^011 were safe on board and 
well, but it tells enough, and it is written in the 
language of cheerfulness and of affection. . . . 

All m}^ past doubts and the fixed gloom which 
has so long overspread m}' imagination are dissi- 
pated, like the darkness before the equinoctial 
sun rising on the plains of Suckrowl (do, my dear 
Marian, allow me to talk nonsense), and have 
given place to the confident hope that ever}' 
dreaded obstruction will follow them, and that 
I am once more destined to happiness. I am 
alread}' happ}' ; for, as God is m}^ witness that I 
prefer 3'our happiness to my own, I feel the meas- 
ure of m}^ present J03' full, with the information 
that I have recentlj^ received. . . . 

At what a time will you have arrived in Eng- 
land ! If nothing has happened between the 
'' Surprise's " departure and 3'our landing to 
change the public opinion of 3'our husband (and 
I think it not likel3^ that it should have been 
changed) , 3'ou will find his name standing in high 
and universal credit ; and what a welcome will it 
be to 3'ou I I have now but one wish remaining 
(3'es, one more), viz., to be able to leave the 
stage of active life while m3' fortune is in the 
zenith of its prospcrit3^, and while I have a con- 
stitution 3'et repairable. 

Letters of Aaron and Theodosia Burr. 309 

I must repress inyself, for if I ^vrite all that the 
fulness of my heart is ready to dictate, I shall 
never come to an end, and I have this to cop}'. 
IJow it is to go I know not. I shall trust one to 
Mr. Boddam, and the other to Mr. Hay in Cal- 
cutta, to be despatched as each shall find means. 
Adieu, m\' beloved, my most deserving and lovely 
Marian. May the God whose goodness I have 
so wonderfully experienced bless you with health, 
safet}^ and comfort, and me with the repossession 
of my sweet Marian ! Amen ! Amen ! Amen ! 
I never loved you so much as I do at this instant, 
and as I have loved you since the delightful news 
of last night. . . . 

Adieu, my most beloved, adieu! 

Letters of Aaron and Theodosia Burr, 

A truly amiable and interesting side of Aarox Burr's 
character is tliat which we find when we look at his do- 
mestic relations with liis wife, Theodosia. All the misfor- 
tunes of his life came after he was bereft of the loving and 
intellectual woman who gave purpose and balance to that 
gifted but erratic nature. 

He met his wife, Tlieodosia Prevost, when he was a 
young officer in the Revolutionary army. She was a widow 
with two children, and was ten years Burr's senior. Tlie 
only hesitation about the marriage was the disparity in 

310 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

years. But Mrs. Burr was a beautiful and charming wo- 
man, then thirty-two or thirty-three. Burr was a man of 
intellect developed far beyond his years. He was an im- 
petuous lover, and married lier in spite of reason. The 
marriage turned out most happily, and Mrs. Prevost proved 
a wife lovable enough to retain till tlie last the heart she 
had won, which was faithful only to her. He said of her, 
" She was the only perfect, ladij I ever knew.'^ High praise 
from a man so fastidious ! And he writes to her in one of 
his latest letters, after they had been nearly twelve years 
wedded : " It was a knowledge of if our mind which first inspired 
me with a respect for that of ijoiir sex, and with some regret ^ I 
confess, that the ideas which yoa have often heard me express in 

favour of female intellectual powers are founded on what I have 
imagined more than on what I have seen, except in 7/ou.'' 

The letters of Mrs. Burr to her husband are full of sen- 
timent. Her husband's are no less affectionate, and when 
lie is away from her his letters are full of longings for the 
time when he shall return. He seems to have been equally 
devoted to their daughter, Theodosia, and writes to her 

■ with fatherly care and tenderness blended with most 
charming humour. 

Mrs, Burr to her Husband. 

New York, Saturday, April, 1785 
I PERSUADE myself this is the last daj^ yoii 
spend ill Philadelphia ; that to-morrow's stage 
will bring j^ou to Elizabethtown : that Tuesday 
morning 3^011 will breakfast with those who pass 
tedious hours in regretting your absence and 
counting the time till your return. Even little 

Mrs. Burr to her Husband, 311 

Theo gives up her place on mamma's lap, to tell 
dear papa ^' come homey Tell Augustine lie does 
not know how much he owes me. 'T is a sacri- 
fice I would not make to an}' human being lout 
himself, nor even to him again. It is the last 
time in my life I submit to 3'our absence, except 
from the calls of 3'our profession. All is well 
at home : Ireson gone on his intended journey ; 
the boys very attentive and industrious ; not a 
loud word spoken b}' the servantj^ All in silent 
expectation await the return of the much-loved 
lord, but all faintly when compared to thy 


The Same to the Same. 

New York, May, 1785. 
I AM vexed that I did not inquire your route 
more particularh'. I cannot follow 3'ou in imagi- 
nation, nor find your spirit when at rest ; nor dare 
I count the hours till your return. The}' are still 
too numerous, and add to my impatience. I ex- 
pect my reward in the health you will acquire. If 
it should prove otherwise, how I shall hate my ac- 
quiescence to your departure. I anticipate good 
or evil as my spirits rise or fall, but I know no 
medium ; my mind cannot reach that stage of 

312 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc. 

indifference. I fancy all my actions directed by 
you ; this tends to spur my industry and give 
calm to my leisure. 

The family as 3'ou left it. Barton never quits 
the office, and is perfectlj^ obliging. Your dear 
little daughter seeks you twenty times a day ; 
calls 3'ou to 3 our meals, and will not suffer your 
chair to be filled hy any of the famil3\ Judge 
Hobart called 3'esterday ; says 3'ou are absent 
for a month. I do not admit that among possi- 
bilities, therefore am not alarmed. I feel obliged 
to Mr. Wickham for his delay, though I dare not 
give scope to m3' pen ; m3^ heart dictates too freel3'. 
O m3' Aaron, how man3' tender, grateful things 
rush to m3' mind at this moment ; how much for- 
titude do I summon to suppress them ! You will 
do justice to m3' silence, to the inexpressible 
affection of 3'our plus tendre amie^ 


Aaron Burr to his Wife. 

Albany, 2 Nov., 1785. 

I HAVE lived these three da3's upon the letters 

I expected this evening, and behold the stage 

without a line from 3'OU. I have been through 

the rain and dark and mud, hunting up every 

Aaron Burr to his Wife. 313 

passenger to catechise them for letters, and can 
scarce yet believe I am so totally forgotten. 

Our trial, of which I wrote you Sunday, goes 
on moderately. It will certainl}^ last till twelve 
o'clock Saturda}^ night ; longer it cannot, that 
being the last hour of court. Of course I leave 
this place on Sunday. Shall be detained at 
Westchester till about Thursday noon, and be 
home on Frida}'. This is my present prospect. 
A gloomy one, I confess, rendered more so by 
your unpardonable silence. I have a thousand 
questions to ask, but wh}^ ask of the dumb? 

I am quite recovered. The trial in which I am 
engaged is a fatiguing one, in some respects vexa- 
tious. But it puts me in better humour to reflect 
that you have just received my letter of Sunda}^ 
and are saying and thinking some good-natured 
things of me, determining to write anything that 
can amuse or interest me, everj^thing that can 
atone for the late silence or compensate for the 
hard fate that divides us. 

Since being here I have resolved that in future 
you accompan}^ me on such excursions, and I am 
provoked that I yielded to 3'our idle fears on this 
occasion. I have told here frequently, within a 
day or two, that I was never so long from home 
before, till upon counting the days I find I have 

314 Letters of Statesmen^ Military Men, etc. 

been frequentl}^ longer. I am so constantty an- 
ticipating the duration of this absence, that when 
I speak of it I realize the whole of it. 

Let me find that you have done justice to 3'Our- 
self and me. I shall forgive none, the smallest 
omission on that head. Do not write by the 
Monda}^ stage, or, rather, do not send the letter 
you write, as it is possible I shall leave the stage 
road in my wa}^ to Bedford. 

Affectiouatel}^ adieu, 

A. Burr. 

The Same to the Same. 

This is among the later letters of Burr to his wife, who 
was then in failing health. She died the following year, 
after twelve years of happy "^vedded life. 

Philadelphia, 15 Feb., 1793. 

I RECEIVED with jo}' and astonishment, on en- 
tering the Senate this minute, your two elegant 
and affectionate letters. The mail closes in a few 
minutes, and will scarce allow me to acknowledge 
3'our goodness. The roads and femes have been 
for some days almost impassable, so that till now 
no post has arrived since Moncia}'. 

It was a knowledge of 3'our mind which first 
inspired me with a respect for that of 3'oiir sex, 
and with some regret, I confess, that the ideas 

Aaron Burr to his Wife, 315 

which* 3011 have often heard me express in favour 
of female intellectual powers are founded on 
what I have imagined more than on what I have 
seen, except in you, I have endeavoured to trace 
the causes of this rare display' of genius in women, 
and find them in the errors of education, of preju- 
dice, and of habit. I admit that men are equally, 
nay more, much more to blame than women. 
Boys and girls are generallj' educated much in 
the same way till they are eight or nine years of 
age, and it is admitted the girls make at least 
equal progress with the boys ; generalh', indeed, 
the}' make better. Why, then, has it never been 
thought worth the at' npt to discover, by fair 
experiment, the partidu'ar age at which the male 
superiorit}' becomes so evident? But this is not 
in answer to 3'our letter ; neither . is it possible 
now to answer it. Some parts of it I shall never 
answer. . . . Your plan and embellishment of my 
mode of life are fanciful, are flattering and in- 
viting ; we will endeavour to realize some of it. 
Pra}^ continue to write, if 3'ou can do so with im- 
punity. I bless Sir J., who, with the assistance 
of Heaven, has thus far restored 3'ou. 

In the course of this scrawl I have been sev- 
eral times called to vote, and must apologize to 
3'ou for its incoherence. Adieu. 

A. Burr. 

316 Letters of Statesmen ^ Military Men, etc. 

Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton. 

The love of Lord Nelson for Lady Hamilton is so insep- 
arable a part of his history that it has become an episode 
in English history as well. There are few characters in 
the naval annals of England that excite such personal 
sympathy and interest as Lord Nelson. The enthusiasm 
which was felt for him by every sailor under his command 
communicates itself to all who read his life. He was a 
man perfectly brave, yet tender to excess; his men said 
of him that " he was brave as a lion yet as gentle as a lamb." 
His feelings were so acute that when any harsh discipline 
was enforced on board his ship he suffered from it as much 
as if he had been a woman. Such a nature as this was 
likely to be strongly swayed by the passion which seized 
him in the prime of manhood, at the height of his fame. 
That his love for Lady Hamilton was most genuine and 
sincere, no one can doubt. It was so sweeping and abso- 
lute that nothing in his life could stand against it. He felt 
it a part of his life, his loyalty, and his religion. 

The career of Lady Hamilton is one of the most excep- 
tional in all the accounts of women of strange and adven- 
turous fortunes. Whatever had been her history before 
her meeting with Nelson, her devotion to him seems as 
sincere and absolute as his for her. She was faithful to 
her affection from first to last, and remained faithful to 
his memory after death. 

That she was a person of almost irresistible charm, we 
have overwhelming testimony. Even Southey, who touches 
lightly on her history, says, '* She was a woman whose per- 
sonal attractions have scarcely been equalled, and whose 
powers of mind were not less fascinating than her person."' 

Lord Nelson and Lady LLamilton. 317 

At the court of Naples she had carried all hearts before 
her. The queen, who was a sister of Marie Antoinette, 
wrote to her as her dearest friend. 

It was at Naples that Nelson first met her, and his affec- 
tion, begun then, ceased only with his death at the battle 
of Trafalgar. She was to him " his saint," " his guardian 
angel." When he was dead they found her picture on liis 
heart. He regarded her with a reverence almost supersti- 
tious. When he had his ship cleared for action on the 
morning of his last battle, and the pictures of Lady Ham- 
ilton and liis daughter Horatia were taken from the walls 
of his cabin, where they always hung, he told his men to 
"take care of his guardian angel." Almost his last words 
were, *' Take care of Lady Hamilton." '' I leave Lady 
Hamilton and my daughter to my country." The yearn- 
ing of the tender-hearted hero for affection burst out in his 
last w^ords to Captain Hardy, — " Kiss me, Hardy ; " and he 
died, as he had promised Lady liamilton, with the last 
sigh upon his lips for her felicity. 

It seems as if England should have regarded his reouest 
to " take care of Lady Hamilton." Not only his country, 
but his brother, who inherited his title, ignored his will and 
refused to acknowledge any claims. The estate of Merton, 
where Lady Hamilton had resided during Nelson^s ab- 
sences from home, was loaded with debts, which she made 
vain efforts to have cleared off, so as to preserve it. She 
Avas arrested for debt, actually imprisoned, and finally left 
England to live in France, in a little town near the sea- 
coast. Here, one day, an English lady, Mrs. Hunter, was 
buying some meat at the butcher's for her pet dog, when the 
shopman said to her, " My lady is English, and there is 
another lady in town, English too, who would be glad of 
the meat you buy for your little dog." 

318 Letters of Statesmen^ Military Men, etc. 

Mrs. Hunter, shocked at what she heard, Avent to seek 
this English lady. It was Lady Hamilton, then in a dying 
condition. Mrs. Hunter succoured her and ministered to 
her, and soon saw her breathe her last. 

The letters of Nelson are very numerous, and are writ- 
ten on every occasion on which a letter could be transmit- 
ted. When there was danger that they would be opened 
they are more guarded than those sent by private means, 
but all breathe most absolute devotion and confidence. 
Tiie following is written just before his return from sea in 
1801, before the death of Sir William Hamilton. 

Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton, 

St. George, Kioge Bay, Apr. 25, 1801. 

My dearest FfvIENd, — Sir Hyde has just sent 
me word that the sloop "Arrow " sails for England 
this day, and I have only time to sa}^ that I hope 
in a fortnight to be in London. I am in expecta- 
tion ever}' moment of the removal of the fleet 
from the Baltic. Be that as it may, I will not 
remain ; no, not if I were sure of being made a 
duke with fifty thousand pounds a 3'ear. I wish 
for happiness to be m}- reward, not titles or 

To-morrow is the birthday of Saint Emma. 
She is my guardian angel. It is not in m}^ power 
to do much honour to her in this place, but I have 
invited all the admirals and all the captains who 
have the happiness of knowing jou, and, of course, 

Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton. 319 

of experiencing 3'our kindness while in the Medi- 
terranean. You ma}' rel}' that m}' saint is more 
adored in this fleet than all the saints in the Ro- 
man Calendar. I know 3'ou pra3'ed for me at 
the Nile and here, and if the prayers of the good, 
as we are taught to believe, are of avail at the 
Throne of Grace, wh}' may not 3'ours have saved 
m}' life ? I own m3'self a believer in God ; and if I 
have an3^ merit in not fearing death, it is because 
I feel his power can shelter me when he pleases, 
and that I must fall when it is his good pleasure. 

Ma3^ the God of heaven and earth bless and 
preserve 3'ou, m3" dearest friend, for the greatest 
happiness you can wish for in this w-orld, is the 
constant prayer of your real, sincere, affectionate 

friend till death, 

Nelson & Bronte. 

The Same to the Same. 

At Sea, Aug. 21, 1803. 
TYe have had, my dearest Emma, two days 
prett3" strong gales. The "Canopus" has lost 
her fore-3'ard, but we shall put her in order again. 
This is the fourth gale we have had since July 6-, 
but the *'Victor3'" is so eas3' at sea that I trust 
we shall never receive an3' material damage. 
It is never m3^ intention, if I can help it, to go 

320 Letters of Statesmen, Military Men, etc, 

into an}' port ; my business is at sea, and to get 
hold of the French fleet ; and so I shall, by pa- 
tience and perseverance. . . . 

I entreat that 3'ou will let nothing fret you 
oxAy believe, once for all, that I am ever your 
own Nelson. I have not a thought, except on 3'ou 
and the French fleet. All iq}' thoughts, plans, 
and toils tend to those two objects, and I will em- 
brace them both so close, when I can lay hold of 
either one or the other, that the Devil himself 
should not separate us. Don't laugh at my put- 
ting the French fleet and you together, but 3'ou 
cannot be separated. I long to see you both in 
your proper places, — the French fleet at sea, 
you at dear Merton, which, in every sense of the 
word, I expect to find a paradise. I send you a 
cop3' of Gibb's letter, my answer, and a letter to 
Mr. Noble about 3'our things, and I will take all 
care that the}- shall get home safe. 

Ever 3'ours 


The Same to the Same. 

This, Nelson's last letter to Ladv Hamilton, was found 
on his desk after death. It is now in4he British Museum, 
and is indorsed with these words in Lady Hamilton's 
handwriting : " This letter was found open on his desk and 

Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton, 321 

brought to Lady Hamilton by Captain Hardy. Oh miser- 
able wretched Emma ! Oh glorious and happy Nelson ! " 
This letter also enclosed a brief one for his daughter, 

" Victory/' Oct. 19, 1805, Noon. 
Cadiz, E. S. E. 16 leagues. 

My dearest beloved Emma, the dear friend of 
my bosom. The signal has been made that the 
enemy's combined fleet are coming out of port. 
We have very little wind, so that I have no hopes 
of seeing them before to-morrow. May the God 
of battles crown my endeavours with success ; at 
all events I will take care that my name shall 
ever be most dear to you and to Horatia, both of 
whom I love as much as m}^ own life. And as 
my last writing before the battle will be to 3'ou, 
so I hope in God that I shall live to finish my 
letter after the battle. May Heaven bless you, 


Nelson & Bronte. 

Oct. 20. In the morning we were close to 
the mouth of the straits, but the wind had not 
come far enough to the westward to allow the 
combined fleets to weather the shoals of Trafal- 
gar ; but they were counted as far as fortj' sail of 

322 Letters of Statesmen, ^lilitary Men, etc. 

ships of war, which I suppose to be thirty-four of 
the line and six frigates. A group of them was 
seen off the Ught-house at Cadiz this morning ; but 
it blows so very fresh and thick weather that I 
rather believe they will go into harbour before 
night. May God Almighty give us success over 
these fellows and enable us to get a peace. 


University Press : John Wilson & Son, Cambridge. 

JAN 2 ^ ^^n